Monday August 2nd. 4-0 BUGW Spellseeker. The Dad Noel run-back.

Deck list: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/bugw-spellseeker/?cb=1628013811

Changed the deck a lot from last week, cut the cards that performed like shit and added a full suite of white cards. The meta has been really creature and very red lately so I wanted to adjust for that a bit as well, also I wanted to play with my beta basics, not these silly Snow-covered lands. Changes from last week:

Cuts: Tourach Dread Cantour, Ice-fang Coatl, Reclamation Sage, Tarmogoyf, Tireless Tracker, Jace the Mindsculptor, Hymn to Tourach, Snow-covered Forest x4, Snow-covered Swamp x2, Snow-covered Island, Flooded Grove, Wasteland.

Adds: Knight of Autumn, Eladamri’s Call, Teferi Time Raveler, Recruiter of the Guard, Wall of Blossoms, Sword to Plowshares, Prismatic Ending, Forest x2, Island, Swamp, Plains, Godless Shrine, Arid Mesa, Hallowed Fountain, Temple Garden.

RD 1 vs UB Thoracle : 2-1

G1: He mulls to 5 on the play and doesn’t find a blue source for a few turns. I thought that T3feri stopped Thoracle combo so I sat back on my T3feri for a few turns not playing aggressively and not realizing that he can just Demonic Consult first, exiling his library then play Thoracle and win. Win not deserved.

G2: I mull to find hand attack or a fast clock and don’t find either. He plays slow on purpose, waiting until an opportune time to win and does.

G3: I mull to 5 again but find some cards, he keeps 7. This game was tense, I have Lotus Cobra in play, Wall of Blossoms, Uro, Diabolic Intent in hand 2 lands one is a fetch. I play land, Uro, draw non fetch land, put fetch land into play and fetch with Lotus in play for mana. I want to Diabolic Intent for Opposition Agent so I sac my Lotus Cobra to Intent instead of playing out the Wall of Blossoms. My Intent gets Memory Lapsed, I play Wall of Blossoms and redraw it, my hand is Wall of Blossoms and one land. T4 he plays 4th land and passes. I feel like I am dead, I cast Uro, he thinks for a bit and then Mana Leaks my Uro. I pass, he plays 5th land and passes, I rip Thoughtseize, cast intent, sacking my Wall of Blossoms and getting Opposition Agent. Thoughtseize seize Thoracle, Gifts Ungiven, third nonrelevant card, his only card in play is a Divining Witch. I take Thoracle and pass. He casts Gifts and I Opposition Agent in response, I take Reanimate and Unearth out of his library and he has no other ways left to get Thoracle into play and calls it quits. What a crazy game and by the hair on my chinny chin chin.

RD 2 vs Jeskai Control: 2-1

G1: He wins the dice roll and keeps 7, I mull to a weak 5. I play some lands until 6 but he misses 5th land drop and plays JTMS, brainstorms, plays fetch and passes, I cast Opposition Agent and kill his JTMS and suddenly find myself in a game that I thought was gone forever. A few turns go by and he isn’t making land drops so I just get to control the pacing and do whatever I want against control.

G2: We have a weird game where he plays the 3 cmc monarch enchantment on my Arbor Elf on his t3 but doesn’t draw lands off the monarch. I have a sylvan library but I also do not find lands so we have an extended stair off that leads into a long game when we both start finding lands but he finds them first and with infinite cards takes a slight lead that I cannot come back from.

G3: He taps out at some point and I take infinite turns while in turns from going to time but get lethal in extra turns.

RD 3 vs Grixis Control: 2-1

G1: This game was stacking up to be close when I have a Leovold in play and I feel ahead until a madcap is cast and I have no answer, then a Treasure cruise is cast into my Leovold as his last card and, in nearly top deck wars, besides his 8/8 abyssing me every turn soon, I feel heavily favoured. I draw a tutor and just Knight of Autumn the Colossus and crack in.

G2: We play a long drawn out game that was a super interesting Control Vs Midrange game. He is answering everything I do but I am gaining some sort of advantage from my spells that do resolve and I spend my mana every single turn and don’t stutter. He eeks out a slight advantage on somewhere around his turn 7 then casts a treasure cruise so we go to…

G3: my t1 is land, elf, go, he goes land pass, t2 I cast Paradise Druid, he passes his t2, my t3 I cast Liliana of the Last Hope, his t3 he casts Liliana of the Last Hope and kills my elf. My turn 4 I cast Lotus Cobra, play and crack fetch, and cast Time Walk and then Eternal Witness, getting back Time Walk. I count my damage and how many turns I will take and am 1 damage off lethal so I commit to kill his Liliana first and seeing where I end up. My t5 off Time Walk, I attack, cast Time Walk, then uptick my Lilly on my Eternal Witness and Unearth it, getting time walk back and casting it. My t6 off Time Walk, I downtick Lilly and get Eternal Witness back and Time Walk again. I draw Ephemerate on my last turn and then end up taking infinite turns. That was my last turn to find a way to win in 1 more damage or infinite turns off of my initial Lilly+Unearth+Time Walk+Eternal Witness hand from my T4. I found it on my last turn with the ephemerate.

RD 4 vs Med Red: 2-1 The return of the HogWizardLord is back, we are all doomed.

G1: Red love Hog, Hog no love red back. Hog draw Price to Progress, Pat die.

G2: Red now jealous, treat Hog poorly, Hog Mull to 6. I Thoughtseize him on the play and see Chrome Mox, Sol Ring, Ancient Tomb, busted red three drop creatures x2, busted red four drop creature x1, RED LOVE HOG AGAIN. I take his Chrome Mox and pass. He doesn’t draw a Mountain, the love hate relationship continues. When he finally finds a Mountain and taps out for some three mana 3/3 that only he could win with, I take infinite turns.

G3:  Red angry at Hog, hog no win with busted hand. He keeps a hand with no acceleration. I Inquisiton and take Goblin Rabblemaster, seeing a Skullclamp and some creatures that aren’t a fast clock. He plays the Clamp, then I Prismatic ending it. He plays a 3 drop creature with no text while I am at a high life total. I develop mana. Next turn he Clamps his 3 drop and plays Looter Scooter. I untap, cast Wall of Roots and pass. He Loots with Scoots, and passes. I hand attack him with Grief, see a clear coast and take infinite turns.

                Its extremely surprising to beat a Hogman on red, the gods of luck have to smile on you to even give you a chance against him when he is with the red deck that loves him so. The changes made the deck so much better. I didn’t face down a Blood Moon so less basics didn’t ruin me too badly although I did get Priced once in the finals but I was losing anyways to an on board Eidolon of the Great Revel. I had a timely Swords against a Dreadhorde Arcanist against Jeskai Control, and I had a very powerful Prismatic Ending on a Skullclamp in the finals that would have become a real issue.

Monday Win, 4-0 With BUG Spellseeker.

Decklist: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/bug-spellseeker/?cb=1627411499

RD 1 Medium Red 2-0

G1: I play T2 Oko on the play against red.

G2: This game is a lot closer, he nearly has lethal
but the follow is a bit shy and I take infinite turns when
he taps out for a dragon.

RD 2 Medium Red 2-1 Finals opponent from last Monday and powerful wizard lord.

G1: a landslide in reds favour, a fast start with a chrome mox into
Stomp, play the giant, t3 cast thoughtknot taking my only relevant spell
then t4 hero of oxide ridge, game not close.

G2: He stumbles on mana and I go out of the gates fast on the play
finishing the game up early with Uro into time walk.

G3: I mull lands and spells and find hand attack on 6 cards. T1 He suspends
rift bolt, I didn’t have the elf anyways, I inquisition him and find a Blood Moon
and not much else. His draw doesn’t get a lot better and I take infinite turns.

RD 3 D&T 2-0 against the Hermit himself, How win??

G1: We both mull to 5 but have a super interesting game where I have to navigate Grand Abolisher, Archon of Emeria,
a Fiend hunter with my Scavenging Ooze on it, and an Auriok Champion. His clock isn’t super fast and I am able to grind
through it with Spellseeker and Liliana, the Last Hope.

G2: He plays some creatures that don’t interact with what I am doing. He has been holding one card
for a bit. when I first cast Spellseeker I tapped out and got Ephemerate so he could have StP it there
but didn’t, the strongest play is to wait until I Ephemerate the Spellseeker and then Plow it. I know he
is an insane MTG player so I still have the lingering thought that he might have the StP in my head
but I decide its better to go for it either way here. He didn’t have it and I take infinite turns.

RD 4 RUG NBC 2-1 Finals against the Knuckleblade.

Second week in a row facing the same player on RUG at 3-0, I love RUG so
I am already losing a lot of value with the luck gods and he pre-woollied so I thought I was doomed.

G1: Get ahead on mana against tempo and keep pushing advantage.

G2: super insane game where I am slightly behind in life, he plays TNN so
forces the game into a race situation because I can’t interact with
the 3 damage per turn. I cast sea gate stormcaller then reanimate on my
previously killed Scavenging Ooze and reclamation sage to try and race along.
He is at 10 life and I have 9 damage in play after going to 4 from his attack with
TNN and Nimble Obstructionist. He has Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy in play to chump block
but I have a Karakas and a way to kill the Nimble Obstructionist, I have to fetch
to do it which leaves me dead to the TNN. I am also very close to a some stupid,
fancy play to make myself mill or discard to be able to grow
my Scavenging ooze by one for the 10 damage I need for lethal
because there is currently no creatures in the bin but I just can’t get there.
With no way to push through the last point of damage
I pack it in and we go to game 3, awesome game.

G3: I play t1 Arbor Elf. He plays turn 1 fetch, pass.
I play land, go. He fetches on my end step but I have Opposition Agent. Thems the beats, bit of an anti climactic
finish especially after the great game 2 but sometimes those cards hit their power level ceiling.

My first time on BUG Spellseeker in like 7 sets so the deck has gotten a lot stronger but the points went
up on Time Walk so you can’t play Pod in the deck right now.

Cards I haven’t played before because they came out after the group play stopped:

Sea Gate stormcaller: insane all night, I thought it would only be good with Time Walk but I
had a few double removal spell games and had the double reanimate game.

Fiend Artisan: My initial read on this card was that it was below average but that was for
4C Pod. It is a lot better in this deck, but it was waaaay better than I expected. I thought
it would never be close to goyf stats while also being a strong tutor but thats close to what it
was both times I cast it.

Timeless Witness: Insane pickup for this deck. It replaces a garbage roleplayer in archaeomancer
and is just way more powerful in general.

Hullbreacher, Opposition Agent, Uro: BUSTED.

Cards that weren’t as hot as I thought:

Grief: more often than not I want to cast this on t4 which is really slow for hand attack, even
with having ephemerate in my deck.

Tourach, Dread Cantor: Card is strong but triple black to cast and kick is too much, twice it would
have been good but I didnt have the triple black both times, easy cut.

Monday July 19th with 4C Pod 4-1, loss in finals.

I tried to remember everything as best as I can but if I played you and it was different fire away what really happened in the comments, I think its close enough
to show the choices and tactics in the games.

Decklist: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/4c-pod-finals-july-192021/?cb=1626828149

RD 1 4c lands 2-0

Game one: He wins the dice roll after I pull out my 5 lucky green dice and get skewered on poker dice.
I have an insane hand of elf, fetch x2, and Wrenn and Six. I get strip mined on his t2, I play W6, get back a fetch
then he plays witherbloom command and kills both W6 and elf. The gods of luck smiled on me when he missed third land drop,
I play some idiots while he misses land drops. when he finally hits third land drop I have a bunch of
low powered pod creatures in play, he plays crucible of worlds and strip mines all my lands but its slightly too late.

Game two: Also super interesting, I forget the deep ins and outs but he draws DT when he is way behind to even up the
game and make it really close.

This match up is really difficult from both sides, Pod tries to draw the game out but is weak to getting strip mine locked at any point
while the 4C lands deck is weak to the grindy style the pod deck can assume in this type of matchup.

RD 2 Lotus Goblins 2-1

This matchup was really weird, I won the two games where he had t1 lotus.

Game 1: He played lotus, goblin pile driver, and two 1/1s and pass.
I play Deathrite shaman and the little buddy essentially takes me home.

Game 2: He played a bunch of fast mana and bbqed me with stronger goblins.

Game 3: Im on the play with t1 shock land tapped and pass, he played t1 lotus, Krenko, I play t2 Sylvan Caryatid. He plays
t2 goblin guide, attack, reveal nothing, pass. My t3 I play Spellseeker, he lets it resolve, I get Bolt and pass.
We have a staring contest but I am casting spells while leaving red up and he isn’t so Eventually he has to scoop it up
to an overwhelming board of garbage Pod creatures. Nobody beats sylvan ranger.

RD 3 RUG Tempo 2-1

This match is extremely hard for RUG Tempo but we had some fun games nonetheless.

Game 1: I play elf and it doesn’t get bolted, were off to the races and I drown the board in value.

Game 2: He has the necessary early interaction and slows me down while playing threats, I am in a super tight spot
at 4 life with no creatures in play but I have survival and 6 tapped lands in play. He has hooting mandrills, a 4/5 tarmogoyf, and a 6/6 quirion dryad. I
untap, play 7th land activate survival for woodland bellower, activate pitching bellower karmic guide and cast karmic guide, get back bellower, bellower gets
knight of autumn and gains me 4 life. with the board filled we still have an interactive game where he has a few counters and burn spells and just
finishes me off with a pteramander and lightning strike before I can kill in my attack step. Super close game.

Game 3: Decently interesting game where I cast kiki with exarch and karakas in play into his 5 untapped mana, think for a bit and pass the turn because
I havent seen many removal spells yet this game (big misplay as there is basically no downside to just going for it here, I thought I would make him waste his mana
but if he just bolts it on my end step I dont achieve anything different than if I just go for the win anyways).
He wastelands my karakas then casts direfleet daredevil and casts the swords I cast on his goyf earlier
on my kiki and absolutely BBQs me. We go on to play a long game where I just loop karmic guide and reveillark to fill the board and end up killing
all his lands with goblin settler between two turns then attacking in the air to get passed a true name nemesis.

RD 4 Burn 2-1

Game 1: All the games were won or lost on razor thin margins, I love playing against burn, games always feel competitive.
He wins the dice roll and gets to me to a spot where I am at a decent life total, approx 8 and have the board locked up, I feel uneasy even though I
am in a decent spot so I play around price to progress by mostly wasting my turn to get knight of autumn in play,
he has it and exactsies me with price and another spell.

Game 2: I have a sylvan caryatid t2 that stops his attacks and stay at a decent life total. He ends up bricking on fourth land to kill me at 10 with exquisite firecraft,
shard volley and an attack from dreadhorde arcanist. He taps out to firecraft me and I Kiki on my turn.

Game 3: This game has a decently involved play. I will make a different post with a picture and a ‘whats the play’ so refer to that for this game.

Rd 5 Med Red 0-2

Game 1: He gets out early with a smugglers copter that chips away at my life and draws him into gas early on that I end up not recovering from fast enough
and die at exactly zero life between a hellrider chump attacking to get 1 damage in and putting me to 1 with roiling vortex in play while I have lethal on the
crack back.

Game 2: I keep a terrible 6 with aether vial. I think its fine because hes playing a lot of creatures with what seems like a slower goldfish.
I end up ripping yavimaya land with no other green sources to be able to play survival and activate it to vial a creature in to and stabilize the board. I
was suddenly way ahead in a game that was all but over but he has a leftover card from his one attack trigger with his robber of the rich that my hit finale of
devastation to get magus of the moon which left bolt as my only draw to put me in the game. I didnt draw it and extended the hand.

Felt amazing to pod again but the extra 6 points after survival and pod that I put in actively made my deck worse. Classic mistake, just play 4 points,
Live and learn. All my matches were interesting and could have gone either way.

Rules Update: June 11th, 2020

June 11th, 2020 Rules Update

On June 10th, 2020, Wizards of the Coast released a statement on Depictions of Racism and Cultural Insensitivity in Magic (linked above), which included the banning of the following cards from constructed play:

Cleanse
Crusade
Imprison
Invoke Prejudice
Jihad
Pradesh Gypsies
Stone-Throwing Devils

Efforts made to foster an inclusive environment are wholeheartedly supported by the council, and Canadian Highlander will be following suit with the bans effective immediately.

These changes have updated the Canadian Highlander banned list to include the following:

– Ante cards
– Cards depicting racism and cultural insensitivity
– Conspiracy cards
– Dexterity cards
– Silver-bordered cards
– Sub-game cards

For a detailed banned list, please reference the rules page linked here. Effectively, Canadian Highlander shares a banned list with Vintage, outside of “Lurrus the Dream-Den” remaining legal.

Rules Update: May 18th, 2020

May 18th, 2020 Rules Update

“Lurrus of the Dream-Den”, a new companion card from Ikoria, has been banned in Vintage.

Across the history of the format, we’ve used the Vintage banned list to help clarify format rules. Prior to today, “the Vintage banned list” was more or less a convenient way of consolidating:

– “Ante” cards
– “Conspiracy” cards
– “Dexterity” cards (Chaos Orb, Falling Star)
– “Silver-bordered” cards
– “Sub-game” Cards (Shahrazad)

Outside of unnecessary “um, actually” moments of pedantry, these aren’t “real” Magic cards. They’re illegal in every official constructed format, and in most community formats

Lurrus is not one of these cards. Lurrus is a real deal Magic card, and with Companion being a non-issue for Canadian Highlander, Lurrus will continue to be legal for play.

What this means is that Canadian Highlander will go through a slight rules change, albeit a change for the sake of cosmetics and clarification.

OLD RULE:

“Canadian Highlander follows the Vintage banned list.”

NEW RULE:

Canadian Highlander uses the following banned list:

– “Ante” cards
– “Conspiracy” cards
– “Dexterity” cards
– “Sub-game” Cards

This was a unanimous decision by the council, as well as a concern raised among MANY community members to maintain some amount of normalcy during the era of Ikoria.

If you’re concerned about structuring Magic Online matches (as most as previously been set as Vintage), please format your Canadian Highlander decks/matches as Freeform.

As always, if you have any questions/comments/concerns, please keep all discussion below.

March 2nd, 2020 – Points Changes

Changes Effective March 2nd, 2020:

Price of Progress increased from 0 points to 1 point (ADDED)
Time Walk increased from 6 points to 7 points
Underworld Breach increased from 0 points to 1 point (ADDED)
Wishclaw Talisman increased from 0 points to 1 point (ADDED)
Yawgmoth’s Will increased from 1 points to 2 points

Stoneforge Mystic decreased from 1 point to 0 points (REMOVED)

 

A video featuring explanations and justifications for these changes will be posted within the days following this announcement.

December 16th, 2019 – Points Changes

Changes Effective December 16th, 2019:

Strip Mine increased from 2 points to 3 points
Time Vault increased from 6 points to 7 points
Yawgmoth’s Will increased from 0 points to 1 point (ADDED)

Enlightened Tutor decreased from 1 point to 0 points (REMOVED)
Summoner’s Pact decreased from 2 points to 1 point
Tinker decreased from 4 points to 3 points

 

Justifications for these changes will be posted within the following day.

Top 10 Canadian Highlander Cards of 2019

As another year of magic comes to a close, I thought I would reflect back on the year through the lens of Canadian Highlander and discuss what I think are the best cards printed over the course of the past year.

Honourable Mentions:

 

Questing Beast

They somehow managed to fit 3 keyword and 3 non-keyword abilities onto the same card and they are all great. Stats? Also great. The 4th point of toughness is huge especially when combined with the deathtouch ability which will often force a double block. This has the potential to blow games wide open, seal the deal on its own, or drag you back from the brink. The only reason it is stuck in the honourable mentions is that I haven’t played with it much and as cliche as it sounds, it just dies to Doom Blade.

 

Plague Engineer

It wasn’t too long ago that I can recall players trying (and winning) with Engineered Plague in their decks to combat all of the goblins and elves running around the top tables. While they aren’t as prevalent as they once were the broken symmetry, and bearish body attached to this version turn what should be a silver bullet sideboard card into a format staple. The high potential for blowout and reasonable worst case has driven this to become an auto-include in midrange and aggressive decks that make the black mana to cast this.

 

The Top 10:

 

  1. Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft

While a relatively new card, the power level is clearly evident and it just manages to steal the last spot on the list. A common issue with these types of cards, is that you end up paying an inflated rate for both halves of the card in order to benefit from the versatility it offers. This card’s closest analogs on both sides cost the same amount, and you can have both halves if you want. Many decks often struggle to include a versatile answer like Petty Theft because it lacks raw power. It is simply a stop gap as opposed to a permanent solution and is inherently card disadvantage unless you are willing to pay a mana premium for the cantripping versions. This version does even better. A 3/1 flyer for 3 is already a reasonable rate, and giving it flash makes it competitive in decks beyond those craving for tempo. For years blue mages in the format have been asking for more Vendilion Clique-like cards. Something a little disruptive with a reasonable clock that they can cast on their opponents end step. Brazen Borrower immediately slides into the upper echelon of those along with Nimble Obstructionist and Vendilion Clique. I believe most blue decks will want this with the exception of the hardest control decks and dedicated combo decks, however, you could even make arguments for including it in some of those. I think people still aren’t quite giving this card the praise it deserves because finally you can have the versatility without sacrificing power level or efficiency.

 

  1. Hexdrinker

On the face Hexdrinker looks a little clunky and rather unassuming. While it shares text with the powerful Progenitus it seems an onerous task to obtain it. I’m here to tell you, it will happen both much more often, and more quickly than you think. While it is a reasonable turn 1 play I believe that the strongest turn to play this is when you have minimum 4 mana available, which in green decks is often sooner than turn 4. Treat it as a 4-drop and immediately level it to 3, which threatens, with an additional land next turn, to jump it straight to Progenitus status. With the prevalence of sorcery speed removal dropping in the format the ability to immediately make this nigh unkillable for some decks the turn it comes down makes this a more reliable plan that it first seems. I haven’t even really mentioned that you can also get all of this power for the low, low cost of 1 mana; which makes it easily tutorable with Green Sun’s Zenith, Finale of Devastation, or even from the same set Ranger-Captain of Eos. This is another card that has impressed me whenever I’ve seen it and isn’t quite getting its due  in our format as of yet.

 

  1. Force of Negation

The closest we’ve come to Force of Will since the printing of the original. I was skeptical at first that the inability to hit creatures would mean that this would be liable to sit in hand, in crucial moments. I was wrong. The ability to reasonably cast the card for mana as well as the addition of the pitch clause stapled to it makes this almost as good as Force of Will already and you don’t even need to pay a life to alternatively cast it! Our format has grown to the point where there will be relevant targets in almost every deck for Force of Negation. Even aggro decks will have planeswalkers, equipment, burn spells or even fast mana all of which gets tagged and can swing the course of a game. The biggest reason this makes the list is that it offers decks functionally a second copy of Force of Will against combo. Which, in a singleton format, is a huge deal. Doubling up on a free hard counter in the combo matchup means that you’ll be able to tapout relatively safely even more often to make sure you can apply pressure without actually going shields down. Force of Negation is already a staple in just about every blue deck playing counterspells as it should be.

 

  1. Prime Speaker Vannifar

Vannifar is another card that has strong similarities to a format staple, this time a pointed format staple in Birthing Pod. Vannifar not having haste is a bit of a downside, but, being a creature means she is more tutorable and easier to untap for greater one turn win potential. Vannifar immediately found success as a functional second Birthing Pod in the already existing 4c Pod decks. However, it didn’t take long for new decks to start sprouting up looking to take advantage of the ability to have twice as many pods in them. Well known Birthing Pod aficionado Pat Berdusco developed a BUG Midrange/Combo with the ability to out grind the grindiest of decks and assemble the most convoluted of combos with ease. This deck was so interesting that he convinced me to give it a whirl and we both ended up playing it in the first Puget Sound Battle Ground last year to a combined 9-0-1 record (Pat had the draw). Needless to say the addition of Vannifar certainly stretched the envelope on what is possible in terms of creature combo decks and even allowed for a more value oriented version to become successful.

 

  1. Teferi, Time Reveller

It should come as no surprise to see “T3feri” on this list. Ubiquitous and defining for an extended period in Standard. Even making strides in Modern though often in more of a utility role. The static ability ranges from annoying to infuriatingly impossible to beat. The plus 1 while innocuous has won me several games personally, and the minus 3’s ability to buy time and generate value completes one heck of a package especially considering it only costs 3. The ability to virtually lock out counterspell decks while generating additional advantage this early is very powerful. Especially with the effect not stapled to creature meaning it is much more difficult to remove. Teferi is already seeing play in fairer midrange/control strategies, however, I actually think he is strongest in combo. Against more aggressive decks he will serve as a road bump and will buy you valuable time. If resolved against control it is likely just game over. Even on his own providing subtle utility such as resetting a candelabra or drawing an extra card and storm by bouncing your own Black Lotus. You may start to notice a theme connecting the cards listed thus far; efficient, cheap, and powerful. Teferi certainly checks all three boxes.

 

  1. Neoform

Another Birthing Pod adjacent card makes the list, to the surprise of no one. Although the most obvious comparison here is Eldritch Evolution. Eldritch Evolution was once pointed for a day and has remained a contentious discussion point for the council ever since. Although the ceiling on Neoform may appear a little lower because it only jumps one rung on the mana ladder, it actually has several advantages over Eldritch Evolution. First and most obvious it only costs 2 but this is vastly more important than just costing less mana. This means it is tutorable by Spellseeker which makes it much more accessible. It also adds a +1/+1 counter to the creature which can often make a big difference. Ever have to face down a 4/4 Leovold, a 4/2 True-Name Nemesis, or an 8/7 Carnage Tyrant. Neither have I, but several of my opponents sure have! Lastly it doesn’t exile and in a world of Snapcaster Mage, Eternal Witness, and even Archaeomancer (likely too deep) that opens the door for many neos to be formed. Neoform is already a staple in every creature combo deck that can cast it, and even sees a reasonable amount of play as a value tutor in fairer decks.

 

  1. Urza, Lord High Artificer

Urza is one of the best Academy cards printed in a long time. The ability to combat artifact hate cards effectively, provide a valuable mana sink, and win the game via the likely massive token all in one card is ridiculous. Urza forces your opponent to fight on multiple axes, and answer both it and the token quickly or the game will simply end. Academy decks often rely on having engine cards to function, for example Paradox Engine is a great mana engine, Future Sight a great card engine. They work great together however on their own they aren’t nearly as threatening. Urza does both as well as provide value and impact on board. The ability to tap non-mana producing artifacts for mana lessens the cost of including them in the deck so now non-eggs Academy decks have the ability to play explosive cards like Krark-Clan Ironworks with less risk of it being dead. I still don’t think there has been enough innovation in regards to Urza yet. He has been slotted into already existing decks, but I believe that he is powerful enough, and there are enough supporting pieces to try out new archetypes revolving around the High Artificer.

 

  1. Oko, Thief of Crowns

Oko just might be broko. Oko may only seem decent at first glance, but once you get a chance to play with him you almost immediately realize just how powerful he is. The most overwhelming part of the card is the starting loyalty. The ability to go to 6 loyalty to first turn he’s in play is backbreaking. I cast this card the first week it was legal against mono red on turn 2. I plus 2’d to make a food token and they asked what that did. I almost felt too bad to tell them. How do they ever come back from that point. That is not withstanding what is in my opinion the most confounding part of the card. The second ability is a plus 1?! It seems to me that that ability could have easily been a minus 1 or even a zero and it still would’ve been a powerful card. The combination of making a 3/3 every two turns while gaining 3 loyalty seems absurd to me and most people sitting across from it happening. Where I think Oko is most underrated (yes, I actually think he is underrated) is as a utility answer to problem permanents. Blue/Green is a colour combination that’s biggest weakness has always been a lack of good answers to permanents that have resolved. Oko has the ability to turn even the most powerful Creatures and Artifacts in the game into mostly harmless elk. The first time I got to play Oko I immediately used it to turn my opponents Paradox Engine into a 3/3, I won that game.

 

  1. Mystic Sanctuary

It’s. An. Island. The opportunity cost of playing this in most decks is absurdly low. With the advent of more and more basic-typed dual lands it will only get better with time. It should be an auto-include in just about every blue control deck. The ability to rebuy a spell just by playing a land and often have access to it in the same turn is incredible. Not to mention more powerful uses such as setting up Miracles. Esper Reanimator now has the line of Entomb Entreat the Angels, fetch Mystic Sanctuary put Entreat on top all on your end step. Great I love it. This is without even touching on the multitude of potential infinite combos available using Time Walks. Meloku, Trade Routes, Kefnet, Venser, the Sojourner, and even Zuran Orb + Crucible of Worlds/Ramunap Excavator all go infinite with this fetchable land any castable Time Walk. The cost of putting this card into your deck? You have to play islands. It might come in tapped sometimes. That’s it. This card is nuts and we haven’t even come close to fleshing out all of the possibilities yet.

 

  1. Wrenn and Six

Wrenn and Six is an absolutely devastating magic card. We all laughed at Tibalt. “He’s unplayable!” we said. Who’s laughing now? Wrenn and Six. They provide a functional way to recur Strip Mine or Wasteland starting turn 2. While also having the option to kill the mana dork you desperately want to play to try and break the lock. They also come down at a potential 4 loyalty frequently on turn 1 or 2 meaning it will almost certainly take more than one turn to remove them even without blockers. This card is certainly at least partially responsible for the recent success and prominence of the lands based midrange decks over the past few months. Beyond that it has become ubiquitous in every deck that can cast it and several that previously couldn’t. It is a 2 drop that is powerful at any point during the game and has the ability to take over as soon as it enters play. I have spoken to some people who think Wrenn and Six seem underwhelming. The operative being “seem”, once you play with or against them you will truly understand just how powerful they are.

 

2019 was a great year for Magic and Canadian Highlander in particular. Some of the most powerful cards in recent memory were printed and are still being tinkered with to fulfill their maximum potential. Others have already had near instant success and have been dominating tournaments already.

 

Jeremy White
@jrhwhite
twitch.tv/jrhwhite

September 9th, 2019 – Points Changes & Justifications

Changes Effective September 9th, 2019:

Crop Rotation increased from 0 points to 1 point (ADDED)
Demonic Ttuor increased from 3 points to 4 points
Mana Crypt increased from 3 points to 4 points
Sol Ring increased from 3 points to 4 points

 

Before we dive into card specific justifications, I want to stress the amount of time dedicated community members put into both testing various pointed cards/archetypes, and harvesting data from their respective communities. It is because of those efforts, that we are able to promote these points decisions with the utmost confidence, and can assure players that these changes are made entirely with producing a better format. While four individual increases seemingly presents such a large power shift, I hope that over the course of the next months you’ll take it upon yourselves to experiment with various new points spreads, and experience a fresh take on your favourite archetypes. I think you’ll find it isn’t as drastic as you may think.

What I’m trying to say is we’re all still going to die to Medium decks pooping out monsters, get strip-locked into oblivion by our Wrenn & Six overlords, and have to stare at our Eggs opponent trying to remember if they PLAYED their Buried Ruin or if it entered play from one of their two Crop Rotations.

You know, the reasons why we love this format!

 

Below are the justifications for the following changes:

 

Crop Rotation– Increased from 0 to 1 (ADDED)

Watchlist post:

While all extremely powerful cards on their own, the potential increase behind this suite of mana producers & deniers is more or less tied with the potential decrease of Fastbond. More or less these cards are included as general format housekeeping, but the council has been tracking the activity and achievements of Strip Mine and Crop Rotation over the past year or so, and their status on the points list may be judged as standalone cards.

Crop Rotation being added to the points list has been a long time coming. It takes a lot for a card to be added to the points list, with Spellseeker being the next most recent addition approximately one year ago. Thankfully, Crop Rotation is up for the challenge! Rotation shares all the qualities of a pointed tutor; flexible, cheap, instant speed all within a colour poised to take advantage of potential new crops. Being a strong and flexible card however isn’t enough to land a card on the points list, but rather it’s the play patterns that Crop Rotation specifically sets up that push it over the edge. You’ll often find Rotation setting up Strip Mine (and Wasteland) locks, kicking a Tolarian Academy or Gaea’s Cradle into gear, or leaving an EoT Marit Lage on your opponents door step. While each of these are format defining lines of play, the speed and frequency that Crop Rotation allows for these lines is a bit too much to continue along free of charge.

 

Demonic Tutor– Increased from 3 to 4

Watchlist post: 

It was no secret that Black was unanimously the weakest colour in Canadian Highlander for quite some time, often being relegated to strictly combo strategies or as the supporting colour in Grixis Control. Our intention on reducing the points of Demonic Tutor and Tainted Pact during the previous year(s) was to increase the diversity and prevalence of Swamps in the format. While we believe we have successfully accomplished what we set out to change, we worry that the various changes put into place may have created more swing-games than hoped.

There’s no question that the combination of Black Lotus and Demonic Tutor was the single most ubiquitous combo spread available in the format. This iconic gruesome twosome were in fact so prevalent and strong, that any other combo spread (or deck for that matter) was often piloted to the detriment of a players win percentage. This isn’t to say that other combo decks were not viable, with Paradox Academy and Time Vault archetypes generating their fair share of groans, but the strength of Lotus/Tutor versus an unknown field cannot be ignored. This lead to a homogeneous collective of Storm shells masquerading as “unique” combo strategies, all of which tossed the diversity of deck construction and in-game strategic trajectory out the window.

It must be said that this change was not solely brought down by the monotony of combo spreads, but also those of midrange decks. While we believe it is important to have “points pillars” for our format, being a pillar does not leave a card exempt from change. The efficiency of DT lead to players having “the perfect answer at the right time” far too often, to the point in which it became the cornerstone of most midrange decks in the format. While it is important to allow players access to tools to reduce the variance in any given format (especially a one-hundred card singleton format), it can is a delicate balance that when unchecked can lead to uninspired gameplay and play patterns.

Also, come on, it’s Demonic Tutor. The granddaddy of all tutors will still be an excellent use of points for both combo decks and midrange decks alike, for many years to come.

 

Mana Crypt & Sol Ring – Increased from 3 to 4

Watchlist post: 

Mana Crypt will be increase to 3 points within the following weeks, and this should come as no surprise to anyone who has played the format in the past year. Mana Crypt based midrange and aggro decks have been sitting on the highlander throne for a bit longer than the council is comfortable with, and we believe that increasing Mana Crypt is a great start. The inclusion of Crypt of the watchlist is just a formality at this point.

Sol Ring on the other hand is something that we’re glad has seen an increase in “fair” gameplay, but it proved to be a bit warping in combination with the reduced Mana Crypt and Strip Mine. We’ll be seeing how these decks adapt to the increase of Crypt before addressing Sol Ring, but we’re well aware of the power behind one of the deck cards in the game.

This change may be the most predictable shift in our format’s history (aside from maybe the initial pointing of Birthing Pod or the first increase of Natural Order), and there’s not much to be said that hasn’t already been covered across various other platforms. Crypt & Ring provides fast mana like no other, and certainly find themselves in a rank above their moxen compatriots. Such an oppressive burst of speed, be it powering out dragons, Memory Jars or titans, lead to an uncomfortable amount of non-games, to such a frequency that the council has decided to increase both options.

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