This Week in Magic

I usually do not post about Magic the Gathering. Mainly because Aki posts about it. A Lot. And I rarely have anything interesting or worthwhile to say. This week however was a bit different. I had a small vacation (since my son was with his grandparents and my wife was working). So what could I do? Turns out – nothing much but play through various different types of MtG. So this will be my random rambling about different formats.

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Team Unified Standard

The World Magic Cup (WMC) is just around the corner. For those who don’t know, its an annual competition between national teams. One team member (the captain) is the player in the country with most professional points. The other members are selected through World Magic Cup Qualifiers (WMCQ).

Of course team competition in a game designed to be played one-on-one is problematic. Last year they brought in the team sealed format where the teams receives twelve booster packs to put together three decks. There the team really does matter, even if the members play the matches as individuals. This year, they are bringing in a new team format: team standard.

Team standard is a format where you make standard decks, but you can only have four copies of a card between all three decks. All in all, an interesting idea, which I personally find appealing. Then again, I play monocolored decks in standard. This is just a personal preferance and is partly a budgetary issue. The deck I currently play looks pretty much like a monogreen Innistrad Block deck with full sets of Predator Oozes, Ulvenwald Trackers, Wolfir Avengers, Strangleroot Geists and Wolfir Avengers. So, for me, this is easy. Than again, I’m not the one playing in this event and for the team, I’d probably have to forget my personal inclinations.

However, since there is a limited number of cards which are considered worthy of using as a base for your deck, there are going to be clashes. I’d especially worry about dual lands. That would mean, no two decks can share more than one color. Clinging to this, most problems can be avoided.

I haven’t done the math and I’m not very familiar with all the archtypes currently played in the format, but seems to me that in a field where three color decks rule, finding the place where three players can comfortably play decks they want is not going to be easy.

The format in the WMCQ was standard. Obviously, this is a fine format when you want people who can play standard and know the card pool. However, being able to play standard is far from being able to do the preparations necessary for the team version. Why do we have WMCQs if they are not the way to choose the right people?

Of course, testing deck design skill is very hard. You’d have to have a set of cards not available before the event itself. Netdecking rules. If I was organizing this event, I’d be afraid people would too often come to the same conclusions, because the easy approach to this is to look at a bunch of good decks and find a combination with no overlaps. Also, because of the method of forming the team, in any country larger than Finland, the team is not going to be familiar with each other, so working together might prove to be too difficult for the purposes of this event.

Of course, some countries do have real professionals, who are experienced at working with teams, as captains. They will probably have a huge advantage. Also, they probably have access to people who can solve problems like this.

Or maybe Burning Earth just changes the face of the format completely and everyone just plays monocolored decks.