Consider the Following

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Before the Vote

It’s about that time again. Points Discussion! Where emotions flare up, bonds are broken and combo players brace themselves for yet another dagger in their back. Just kidding. You can keep counting your storm, because aggro is the current boogie man of the hour. Why, you ask? Well, head on over to “2013 in Review: The Highlander Points List – Part 3. Moving Forward” and take a gander at some of the many reasons why creatures with CMC (converted mana cost) three or less need their grip loosened sooner, rather than later.

….Done?

Good!

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How?

For starters, instead of solely attacking aggressive strategies, let’s try to encourage players to compete using alternative strategies. The healthiest approach to this would include trimming the cost of many Value cards that seem out of place as restricted cards. Allowing other archetypes the flexibility to address an aggro-centric format, without making a staggering amount of sacrifices in customization.

Here are some of the changes I propose. NOTE: Not all of these changes have to be made. They are just possible options to consider.

Increases:

  • Black Lotus – 6 to 7
  • Goblin Recruiter – 1 to 3
  • Mox Emerald – 3 to 4
  • Mox Jet – 3 to 4
  • Mox Pearl – 3 to 4
  • Mox Ruby – 3 to 4
  • Mox Sapphire – 3 to 4
  • Natural Order – 1 to 2
  • Strip Mine – 4 to 5
  • Umezawa’s Jitte – 2 to 3

Black Lotus:
I’ve mentioned before that I was surprised to have discovered that Yawgmoth’s Will was added to the points list. It all seemed so out of place, as the increase was geared towards stunting the dominance of combo decks that relied heavily on Lotus for every possible build, where as certain Doomsday configurations have other suitable (and sometimes more powerful) options. After getting an opportunity to play Lotus in both “unfair” (Storm, Doomsday, etc) strategies and “fair” strategies (Mono Green), it seems quite deserving of a points increase alongside a simultaneous decrease of Yawgmoth’s Will.

Goblin Recruiter:
Goblins has shown that it can function at full throttle without any points (with the current list, you can say it had 1 point). So, why jump from 1 to 3. Well, because 2 points does little to nothing to contain the power of Krenko’s army. Placing Recruiter at 3 creates a situation in which sacrifices (however minimal they may be) must be made.

Mox (Emerald, Jet, Pearl, Ruby, Sapphire):
Let’s face it, the “Moxen” are disgustingly powerful in multiples. Moxen are also most at home alongside cheap efficient threats. There’s a simple solution to this, and it is quite an elegant one at that. Abolish the “Multiple Mox Taxation” and raise all of the Moxen to 4 points. Players are still able to dedicate almost all of their points towards the zero mana artifacts, but the remaining two points require more thought than slamming any of the lower pointed cards into your build.

Natural Order:
This card is disgustingly powerful. While the situation created by Tinker is often dire, you are typically left with one or two turns to provide an answer. Natural Order on the other hand typically ends the game on the turn it is cast. Craterhoof not lethal? You have plenty of other flexible options to snag for any given situation. I could go on and on about the depth of this particular card in Highlander, but I’ve got a whole article planned for that.

Strip Mine:
Unlike Wasteland, Strip Mine allows for zero counter-play outside of leading off of Darksteel Ctiadel, Flagstones of Trokair, or by sitting back on a fetchland. Strip Mine leads to incredibly lop-sided games at very little cost or commitment from the user. While unfortunately unavailable, it would be interesting to take a look at the percentage of games won after having successfully “stripped” an opponents land on turns 1 to 3. Much like other cards featured in this section, Strip needs additional restraint in order to create more conscious deck-building decisions that are appropriate to its power-level.

Umezawa’s Jitte:
It slices, it dices, it absolutely dominates a match-up featuring creatures (See: Most games played). The strength, flexibility and board dominance of this card are not akin to other cards sitting at two points. Jitte (math) is not fun, and (as developers), fun is something that must be taken into consideration when cultivating a format.

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Decreases:

  • Moat – 1 to 0
  • Recurring Nightmare – 2 to 1
  • Sensei’s Divining Top – 2 to 1
  • Scapeshift – 1 to 0
  • Yawgmoth’s Will – 1 to 0

Moat:
Moat feels so incredibly out of place on the list. Every colour combination, strategy and (realistically competitive) configuration has potent answers to this Legends enchantment.  There are many strategies where the card itself is completely dead, and it offers little to no advantage in many control and combo match-ups. In my opinion, Moat does not fit any of the (ideal) qualifications for the being on the points list.

Recurring Nightmare:
While Recurring Nightmare certainly has Combo applications, more often than not it finds home in midrange shells. The card itself is quite clunky, and somewhat vulnerable as it interacts with multiple zones at sorcery speed. Lowering Nightmare would not warp the format by any means, and could possibly bring a resurgence to an interesting (and nowadays somewhat niche) pocket of the format. It is fast? No. Does it tutor? No. Can it combo? Yes. Are we removing it from the list entirely? No.

Sensei’s Divining Top:
Frankly, I don’t feel I would do this argument justice. I have no idea how this card ended up being two points, after such a controversy surrounding its placement on the points list. May I direct your attention towards the Facebook group listed in the Resources section of the website if you wish to create/find discussion on the topic.

Scapeshift:
This seems to be a forgotten relic of an ancient time. Given the distinct decorative markings, it seems as though it stems from the era of Grindstone and Life from the Loam seeing place on the list. Somewhat clunky, requires some sort of dedication as far as deck construction goes to even deal the bare minimum of damage (albeit that damage is worth 18 points of life). I can certainly see an argument for keeping this card on the list. Hell, even while writing this section, I feel more inclined to delete what I have written and leave this card out of the article. Welp.

Yawgmoth’s Will:
The section on Black Lotus covered this. Anti-climatic, I know.

mm44_balance

Overall Rules:

  • Multiple Mox Taxation Removal
  • Ban Flash

Multiple Mox Taxation:
I had already mentioned this within the section for the various Moxen. By increasing the overall points of each Moxen, we are able to safely removal a somewhat confusing rule. This helps streamline the rules, and helps gear Highlander towards a more elegant structure.

Ban Flash:
Realistically, Flash is (near) unplayable in any format while remaining not partnered up with Protean Hulk. Much like removing the Moxen rule, this is a more traditional and clean solution to the problem.

With these changes in place, our points list would look like this:

Ancestral Recall – 6
Balance – 2
Birthing Pod – 4
Black Lotus – 7
Crucible of Worlds – 1
Demonic Tutor – 5
Enlightened Tutor – 2
Fastbond – 2
Gifts Ungiven – 3
Goblin Recruiter – 3
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
Mox Emerald – 4
Mox Jet – 4
Mox Pearl – 4
Mox Ruby – 4
Mox Sapphire – 4
Mystical Tutor – 3
Natural Order – 2
Oath of Druids – 2
Price of Progress – 3
Protean Hulk – 3
Recurring Nightmare – 1
Sensei’s Divining Top – 1
(Scapeshift – 1)
Skullclamp – 4
Sol Ring – 6
Stoneforge Mystic – 1
Strip Mine – 5
Survival of the Fittest – 4
Time Vault – 7
Time Walk – 6
Tinker – 6
Tolarian Academy – 3
Umezawa’s Jitte – 3
Vampiric Tutor – 4
Wasteland – 2
Wheel of Fortune – 1
Winter Orb – 1

* Flash is Banned

Seems good.

Let’s give it a shot? Maybe just a couple? It’s okay, take your time.

Cheers,

Benjamin

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