2013 in Review: The Highlander Points List – Part 1. Overview

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2013:

Quite an interesting and eye-opening year for our home-grown format, wouldn’t you agree? Throughout the year, our community seemingly made the best of efforts to showcase the organic nature of eternal magic to the (various) extremes.

However, before we get into that, let’s take a look at the points list we ended the year with:

Points List of 2013

Ancestral Recall – 6
Balance – 2
Birthing Pod – 4
Black Lotus – 6
Crucible of Worlds – 1
Demonic Tutor – 5
Enlightened Tutor – 2
Fastbond – 2
Gifts Ungiven – 3
Goblin Recruiter – 1
Hermit Druid – 5
Imperial Seal – 3
Intuition – 2
Jace, the Mind Sculptor – 1
Library of Alexandria – 3
Mana Crypt – 2
Mana Drain – 2
Mana Vault – 2
Merchant Scroll – 2
Mind Twist – 1
Mishra’s Workshop – 2
Moat – 1
Mox Emerald – 3*
Mox Jet – 3*
Mox Pearl – 3*
Mox Ruby – 3*
Mox Sapphire – 3*
Mystical Tutor – 3
Natural Order – 1
Oath of Druids – 2
Price of Progress – 3
Protean Hulk – 3**
Recurring Nightmare – 2
Sensei’s Divining Top – 2
Scapeshift – 1
Skullclamp – 4
Sol Ring – 6
Stoneforge Mystic – 1
Strip Mine – 4
Survival of the Fittest – 4
Time Vault – 7
Time Walk – 6
Tinker – 6
Tolarian Academy – 3
Umezawa’s Jitte – 2
Vampiric Tutor – 4
Wasteland – 2
Wheel of Fortune – 1
Winter Orb – 1
Yawgmoth’s Will – 1

* The first Mox in any deck only requires 3 points. Every additional (pointed) Mox beyond the first requires 4 points.

* Protean Hulk may not be played in the same deck as Flash

This list was last updated on September 27th, 2013, with Life From the Loam being removed while Goblin Recruiter and Yawgmoth’s Will being the newest additions.

While we unfortunately were unable to catalogue the winning decklist from each event in 2013, we were able to collect the winning points spreads. Using that information, we can show you both the number of times an individual card appeared in a winning deck. That said, take these numbers with a grain of salt, as popularity doesn’t necessarily equate power.

Individual Card Appearances

Sensei’s Divining Top – 27
Jace, the Mind Sculptor – 25
Umezawa’s Jitte – 25
Strip Mine – 20
Winter Orb – 19
Skullclamp – 18
Wasteland – 16
Stoneforge Mystic – 14
Sol Ring – 13
Price of Progress – 12
Survival of the Fittest – 11
Mystical Tutor – 9
Mox Emerald – 8
Mox Pearl – 8
Ancestral Recall – 7
Birthing Pod – 7
Enlightened Tutor – 6
Mana Drain – 6
Mox Jet – 6
Demonic Tutor – 5
Mind Twist – 5
Black Lotus – 4
Goblin Recruiter – 4 (7*)
Mox Ruby – 4
Wheel of Fortune – 4
Hermit Druid – 3
Library of Alexandria – 3
Mox Sapphire – 3
Gifts Ungiven – 2
Moat – 2
Natural Order – 2
Recurring Nightmare – 2
Tolarian Academy – 2
Time Walk – 2
Mana Crypt – 1
Mana Vault – 1
Vampiric Tutor – 1
Balance – 0
Crucible of Worlds – 0
Intuition – 0
Imperial Seal – 0
Merchant Scroll – 0
Mishra’s Workshop – 0
Oath of Druids – 0
Protean Hulk – 0
Scapeshift – 0
Time Vault – 0
Tinker – 0
Yawgmoth’s Will – 0 (4**)

* While Goblin Recruiter was featured in seven winning decklists, it was only for the final four victories that it was on the points list.

** While Yawgmoth’s Will was featured in four winning decklists, at the time of each victory it was currently unpointed.

Now, what does this all mean? Frankly, not that much. What these numbers do mean will however be covered in Part 2 of “2013 in Review: The Highlander Points List”.

To close out this post, let’s quickly dissect our points list. I mulled over the various possible categorizations I could use, and eventually abandoned my three columned system for a more descriptive four columned version.

Essentially, every card can be divided into one (sometimes multiple) of the following categories:

Fast Mana – 13 Cards:
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I’m sure this particular category needs no real introduction. Mana is essential to the game (in before Dredge comments). “Fast Mana” on the other hand, is quite dangerous. If a player commits to casting an artifact for two mana that accelerates their possible mana by an additional count on the following turn, sure. Go ahead. Seems fine. If a player drops a Mox (or two) on turn one,  to follow up with a threat of sorts that should never realistically be possible of casting, then we have a problem.

Black Lotus (6)
Fastbond (2)*
Mana Crypt (2)
Mana Drain (2)*
Mana Vault (2)
Mishra’s Workshop (2)
Mox Emerald (3)
Mox Jet (3)
Mox Pearl (3)
Mox Ruby (3)
Mox Sapphire (3)
Sol Ring (6)
Tolarian Academy (3)

*Mana Drain at times can end up being simply a Counterspell. Other times, it turns into Counterspell meets Thran Dynamo.

Tutors – 15 Cards:

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When I say “Tutors”, I’m not necessarily talking about cards such as Diabolic Tutor or Chord of Calling. I’m more so referring to cards that are inappropriately priced. An investment of 2BB at sorcery speed for any card in your library is acceptable, even by modern standards. 1B for the exact same effect however, is not.

Birthing Pod (4)
Demonic Tutor (5)
Enlightened Tutor (2)
Gifts Ungiven (3)
Goblin Recruiter (1)
Imperial Seal (3)
Intuition (2)
Merchant Scroll (2)
Mystical Tutor (3)
Natural Order (1)
Protean Hulk (3)*
Stoneforge Mystic (1)**
Survival of the Fittest (4)
Tinker (6)
Vampiric Tutor (4)

* Protean Hulk is more at home in the upcoming “Combo” category, but there are certainly applications of using Hulk as a utility card in dire situations. It is for this reason that Hulk lands a spot in the “Tutor” category, while Scapeshift does not.

** Stoneforge Mystic. while a cheap tutor, rarely ends up finding a game-ending cog for a specific convoluted engine. It more than often, fills the role of a “Value” card, finding an appropriate piece of equipment for whichever the situation at hand may be.

Value – 19 Cards:

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I know what you’re thinking. There’s so much Value. Yes, it is quite a popular category. It is also the easier category to look towards when trimming cards/points is the topic at hand. Similar to the “Tutors” section, most of these cards have mana costs or deck construction requirements that seem ludicrous by modern expectations.

Ancestral Recall (6)
Balance (2)
Crucible of Worlds (1)
Fastbond (2)*
Jace, the Mind Sculptor (1)
Library of Alexandria (3)
Mana Drain (2)
Mind Twist (1)
Moat (1)
Price of Progress (3)
Recurring Nightmare (2)
Sensei’s Divining Top (2)
Skullclamp (4)
Stoneforge Mystic (1)
Strip Mine (4)
Time Walk (6)
Umezawa’s Jitte (2)
Wasteland (2)
Wheel of Fortune (1)
Winter Orb (1)

* Fastbond: While the end result is typically a “Combo”, it isn’t your broadband sort of situation. The engine develops at dial-up speed. We’re talking 20 kbit/s here.

Combo – 10 Cards:

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Cards in this section are typically all you need to pull a win. Sure, they require some form of thought during deck construction, but these are the cards that pull the weight.

Fastbond (2)
Goblin Recruiter (1)*
Hermit Druid (5)
Natural Order (1)*
Oath of Druids (2)
Protean Hulk (3)
Scapeshift (1)
Time Vault (7)
Tinker (6)*
Yawgmoth’s Will (1)

Recruiter, Tinker and Natural Order: While these three cards all end up tutoring a specific card/set of cards, more often than not, upon resolution the game is over. Sure, fighting through it is certainly possible, but you’re in for one hell of an up-hill battle.

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Reviewing the points list in this fashion gives us a better idea of the various deck construction restrictions we have implemented for the format. Looking forward, it can assist us in trimming points off of specific categories geared towards specific strategies.

In Part 2, possible changes for the points list will be covered, as well as a recommended mentality voters should adapt when simultaneously playing and developing a budding format.

Cheers,

Benjamin

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