I don’t really know if others feel the same, but Standard has, sadly, become a bit of chore for me.
I used to love Standard. Sure, there’s been ups and downs. Sometimes quite big ones. Other times I’ve been pretty certain that people have just stopped trying when there would have been opportunities for finding new angles and building decks on that basis.
But now, there’s just so much I can’t get any kind of handle on any of it. But let’s go through this one point at a time.
1) Powercreep: Cards in Standard are now quite powerful. Granted, there have been powerful cards before and based on the fact that Standard is not the same as Modern currently, the cards are not the most powerful we’ve ever seen, but at the same time there is a problem here.
You can’t afford to stumble even a bit. With all the powerful cards in the format, missing a land drop early or not being on the board when the opponent plays either Teferi, you just lose. And you can’t concede, because maybe there’s a chance, but you know you’ve already lost the game. And that’s just stupid and frustrating.
Is playing against any of these in any way fun?
The thing is, most competing card games will give you action each turn, as they don’t have lands in the decks. Magic has this additional variance to it. However, if you now design cards with the same mindset those other games have, your game will suffer, when that variance hits.
2) Lack of answers: So, where’s my gravehate? If you make a card like Command the Dreadhorde, you also need to give us the tools to fight it. I mean, I though this much has been obvious for quite a while, and I though they already learned their lesson with energy and the graveyard shenanigans of Amonkhet, but apparently not.
And no, there shouldn’t be just some way to kill Teferi after it’s dropped, there should be a way to punish the people for doing so. Anything that powerful should have equally formidable countermeasures.
These shouldn’t be limited to certain colors either. Fighting Mass Manipulation with Trostani works, but how many decks can actually play it?
3) What does all this lead to? Playing Red: I don’t really mind red, but about half of all the decks I play against are just monored. Why? That’s kind of simple: In a world with so many powerful options you don’t really have answers to, you just need to present your own questions. How do you do that? You play monored. I can’t really fault that.
Now, I don’t want to do that personally, but forcing people to do exactly this tells you a lot about the format. The multitude of different angles you might have to fight is just so stupid, it’s just easy to say ‘no’ to that and just rely on the simple plan.
4) Powerful ways to gain card advantage: Simple card draw, for example Divination, is not at an all time high in Standard, but the other ways of finding advantage is. In many ways I like this, because it mitigates flood, but at the same time, it also takes away an avenue for those who stumble to catch up. Previously you would sit there with your spells, but you would have more than your opponent, when you finally draw that fourth land.
So, yeah, the current design philosophy had hurt the game, at least from my point of view. I’ve even began to enjoy Modern a bit more, but seen some of the decks in the recent Team Modern Super League, I am not very hopeful about the impact of Modern Horizons. Of course, the format of the league is a bit different and it encourages degenerate combodecks, but with many games ending quite fast, I’m no longer looking forward to those either.