My Take on Current Standard

(Meaning Standard as of AER.)

Spoiler: I don’t like it.

I first started playing around The Dark. That was 1994. I played a few years very actively, but decided to step back when I basically lost the people I usually played with to various real life reasons. I would still play occasionally with loaned cards, but in practice I didn’t play between 1999 and 2012.

In 2012, my guildmates managed to talk me into EDH. I noticed the game had definitely become better in the intervening years, so I decided to try Standard. My first attempt was with a Rakdos Event deck from Return to Ravnica. I went 1-3, but I was hooked. Of course, it took a while, but over time I become more and more invested in the game.

I would spend more and more money on it, with my collection becoming better and better. I would also meet new friends and I’ve actually become quite invested in the local scene at Tampere (although I don’t spend much time there now due to work related issues) and Finland at large. I played actively and though I’m not a first tier player, even locally, I’m pretty good and people have to respect me as an opponent. Well, at least at times, since I tend to play a lot of weird concoctions, that don’t really pan out, but still…

Anyhow, lately I haven’t felt very interested. Its hard to say where it began, but I’m guessing it began with the four-color goodstuff decks before Khans rotated out, where synergies didn’t matter, because you only needed to figure out some sort of curve and play what you wanted. The no-limits mana just felt like it took all fun out of the game for me. All the Rally the Ancestors decks didn’t help either. They were just too strong.

Now, although WotC doesn’t seem to want to admit to it, we live in a two deck format. Sure, some players are trying something different, but when I try something, all goes well until that one Mardu Vehicles player just has that good draw and I can’t do anything.

Could we, please, leave this to the older formats? When the format is dominated by powerful cards, that we don’t have good enough answers to, quite a few games are decided based on who’s on the play. If that player has a good draw, the player on the draw just can’t compete. At least it feels like it.

I understand that bannings are pretty hard. There’s just too many very powerful cards in the format right now, because of the new philosophy (that already failed) and I don’t see how they could take just some of them out. At the same time, I bet those cards are also in the pipeline, because how could they not be? They’ve already delivered the next few sets and they can’t just lower the powerlevel suddenly, because that would affect sales.

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So, I don’t as much as I used to. This is partly due to my aforementioned work situation, but also I just don’t find it interesting enough to put some work into being able to play the FNM. I often could shift things around just a bit to make it, but I’m not motivated to. I do still play events like PPTQs, because I want to maintain my two byes for GPs, but those now feel more like a chore than fun. I still go to the FNMs (late) to look at games and meet friends, but I’m not pumped about trying a new deck. I don’t even brew anymore. If you try the tag on this blog you’ll see that I just haven’t done it for the couple of last sets, even though I would often write 10 or so articles on different brews. Now, nothing. I just don’t feel inspired.

I’ve noticed I’m even looking forwards to Modern more. Didn’t think that would ever happen, but at least I have reasonable answers without having to play a very specific kind of deck. At least I feel I have a choice on the deck I play and it doesn’t have to be from a very small pool. I have various ways to fight the most popular strategies.

Of course Standard will always be a format with less viable decks, but could we at least have a little room for innovation? During the last few years I could play weird decks and do well with them, but now it just feels like the Copy Cat decks are pushing me to be very fast and the Mardu Vehicles is that fast deck, so I need to choose between those. Not much of choice.

The worst thing? Combos. I get that they are fun. Its fun to see how someone wins a game through a combo. Well, its fun exactly once. After that its just frustrating. The game does clearly need combo decks for certain kinds of players, but bringing them into Standard is just a poor idea. Not that it was an idea, because apparently Copy Cat was just a mistake and the power of Marvel apparently as well.

Competing with the combined powers of all the players is going to be hard for the development team, but they clearly need to do a better job. I don’t know how, but then again, its not my job to know.

I also understand that the R&D is in a difficult situation. They need to take the game into new places, while keeping it sort of balanced. Still, they also need to keep it fun and for me, Standard hasn’t been that in a while. Again, it feels like a chore more than anything else. You don’t want your hobbies to feel like that.

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