The Many Problems with Fry

Melissa DeTora wrote about [scryfall]Fry[/scryfall] in her M-Files series of articles.

[quote]Fry, known to Play Design as its playtest name, “Fowl Roasting,” is part of our enemy-color hate cycle. We made this cycle alongside our decision to bring back protection in M20. There were several reasons for bringing back protection, and you can read about why in last week’s M-Files, but one of the reasons was to give players obvious sideboard cards to play when an environment calls for it. If you’re losing to a deck with both Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Lyra Dawnbringer, it was not very obvious which sideboard cards to play in your deck to fight it as a red player. For example, you can play Fight with Fire to kill Lyra, but that doesn’t help against a turn-five Teferi. We wanted to make sideboard cards that are clear and clean answers to powerful cards in the environment.[/quote]

There’s actually quite a few problems here (like bringing back Protection, which as a judge I find was a clear mistake), but let’s talk about [scryfall]Fry[/scryfall] as a sideboard option against [scryfall]Teferi, Hero of Dominaria[/scryfall].

It’s actually fine, not good, against Lyra. I would much rather have [scryfall]Rampaging Ferocidon[/scryfall], but since we can’t actually play that, I guess this is what we have to contend with.

Anyhow, let’s think about [scryfall]Fry[/scryfall] against Teferi. First of all, the optimal situation: Your opponent plays Teferi, plusses it and you can than kill it with [scryfall]Fry[/scryfall]. Yey. You did get rid of it, but if we take a closer look at what happened, it doesn’t look that good.

First, you spent two mana and a card. Your opponent spent five mana and a card. This is a good exchange, but sadly, the Teferi got activated once, which means that your opponent drew an extra card and also gets to untap two cards. Uh-oh. They basically spent one mana to draw a card. Not a very a good exchange for you.

And this is the optimal situation. In many other cases, it’s much, much worse. For example, there’s a strong chance that your opponent gets to see it before you get to play it. The same decks that often play Teferi, tend to also play discard, so there’s no guarantee that if you draw it, you’ll also get to keep it in your hand for when you actually need it.

However, I think the biggest problem is that it does not fit into your plan. If you are playing Monored, you are trying to be proactive. [scryfall]Fry[/scryfall] is very much a reactive card. You don’t want it cluttering your hand, when you are trying to push damage through any way you can. Worse yet, you might see it on top of your library with [scryfall]Experimental Frenzy[/scryfall] and be unable to play it, because there are no targets.

Finally, why do we get a clean answer to Teferi just when it’s about to rotate out? We needed that a year ago. A better one at that. Also, not just one. Options. Many. I mean, Teferi was for a time (before [scryfall]Nexus of Fate[/scryfall] was even worse) a card that made people take a break from Standard. I don’t think all of them will return.

Okay, that wasn’t an actual ‘finally’, because there’s one more point I want to make: Cards like these teach new players wrong lessons. They lose to Teferi and look for answers, gravitating towards cards like these, but they don’t recognize the problems these cards present. If it doesn’t fit your plan, you should reconsider.

All in all, I think we are in a precarious situation. It seems to me that the gameplay of Standard is becoming simplified, but since player numbers are up due to Arena, the problem is obfuscated by various other signals. Right now I play Standard just to get my daily quota of wins on Arena, since I don’t always have time to play limited. I feel many others are in a similar situation. They avoid Standard, because they feel they have to play one of very limited number of decks to make their skills actually matter.

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