Hello and welcome to another episode of Raise Your Standards. With the Pro Tour firmly in our rear-view mirror, Standard is chugging along towards the release of Rivals of Ixalan. Since Ixalan has been on the shelves for a while now, innovation in Standard decks is at its low point of this cycle. So, for the next few weeks, I’ll be shaking things up by discussing other topics than just Standard decks.
To start things off this week, let’s talk about banning cards.
This past weekend there were 3 Grand Prix’s that took place. Surprisingly enough, all 3 were won with Energy-based decks. And because of this, many Magic content creators have been calling for a ban. So, I figure I’ll jump on the bandwagon and give you my thoughts on whether anything is ban-worthy in Standard.
The Cards on Trial
Attune with Aether is extremely efficient for only costing one mana. Not only does it fix your mana, but it also provides you with 2 Energy. And that number, two, is relevant for multiple reasons. It allows you to immediately boost the stats of a Longtusk Cub. It also allows you to kill any 5-toughness creature for only investing 2-mana by casting Harnessed Lightning. There are more reasons, but that’s a good starting point for this discussion.
As a 1-mana spell, Attune with Aether would already be amazing if all it did was search for a land to put into your hand. That alone means that two-color decks never have to worry about being shut out of one color of their mana. It also means that you can play a deck with a slightly lower land count, which increases the number of threats that can be played. These things alone make this card very playable. Adding on getting 2 Energy for free is nothing but gravy.
So, because this card gets you 2 Energy for “free”, I could definitely see this card being ban-worthy. If the bonus Energy were lower, this card might not be as much of a problem, but there’s no changing a card once it’s printed, so the only option would be a ban.
While there is certainly a case to be had for banning Aether Hub, I feel that boosting your Energy count by one is not overpowering. Especially since this card needs to spend Energy in order to fix your colored-mana production. Aether Hub certainly makes it easier to play multi-colored decks, but it’s not often that there isn’t some sort of mana-fixer that allows this to happen. If that’s the only argument for banning this card, then perhaps cards like Unclaimed Territory should also be banned. (Please note, I’m not saying this would be a good idea, because I don’t believe either of these cards needs to be banned.)
The main problem that’s allowing the Energy-based decks to be so prevalent is that there is no way to remove Energy from your opponent once they’ve gotten it. It’s a similar problem that people have with Poison. However with Poison, the fact that your opponent is poisoned doesn’t dramatically increase the power-level of cards that you can play. With Energy, the more you have, the bigger your threats can become. I agree with the people saying that there should be a way to remove Energy counters from an opponent, but until we return to Kaladesh I don’t see us getting anything like that.
The other topic I’d like to address this week is the sheer amount of new products that Wizards of the Coast is releasing at this time of year. Last week was the release of the Merfolk vs. Goblins Duel Deck. This week Iconic Masters drops. Next week we see the release of Explorers of Ixalan, with From The Vault: Transform the week after. Then the following week is the release of Unstable. Five different products releasing each week for five weeks in a row. Is it too much?
I realize that not all products are for all players. But as a player of this game for 10 years or so, I have a hard time staying with just one format. I’ve played long enough that I have a sizeable amount of Modern-legal cards, and while I don’t play Modern very often, I enjoy it when I do. As should be apparent with me writing this article, I love playing Standard. I’m also a big fan of Magic lore and board games in general, so things like Explorers of Ixalan really appeal to me. And with the batch of spoilers happening for Unstable, I’m looking forward to playing a draft or two and possibly creating my own Un-Cube. I also want to support this product so future Un-Expansions can happen. And don’t get me started on those sweet John Avon borderless lands.
But for the love of Pete, why do all of these releases have to happen on concurrent weeks? And here in the United States, it’s all happening during the Holiday season. Color me unimpressed.
I understand that the schedule has been set for many months. I’m also sure that WotC planned for this to happen during this time of year in an effort to boost their 4th-Quarter sales, but I, for one, don’t like it. I prefer my releases to happen a few weeks apart so I have time to play with the current hotness before moving on to the next thing. Hopefully next year things aren’t so jam-packed, but I’m not betting on it.
As you may (or may not) be aware, this article marks my 1-year anniversary of writing for MTG Deck Techs. I would like to thank all of you that have read any of my articles this past year (especially if you’ve commented on them). If you have any suggestions for topics that you’d like to see me write about, please let me know by leaving a comment. Or you can reply to me directly on Twitter (@mikelikesmtg), or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And be sure to join me again next week for another installment of Raise Your Standards. I’ll see you then!