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)
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
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
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.