1. The banning of Sylvan Primordial
I have never, not even once, thought that Sylvan Primordial was worthy of being banned. Sure, his ability is certainly powerful, especially in multiplayer games, but I have never thought of it as degenerate or overpowered, even if Sylvan Primordial is repeatedly copied or flickered with its partner in crime, Deadeye Navigator.
I am sure that most of you feel the same way, but I guess there are more people with more vocal complaints against this card (there are like a million posts and forum discussions in the internet dedicated to showing how ban-worthy this card is), and the rules committee chose to listen to them. While I like it that those in charge of managing the Commander banned list is somewhat in-touch with their player base, I do not like it when simple, good cards are banned while there are more, objectively degenerate cards and strategies out there that are legal in the format.
So what made Sylvan Primordial different from the rest? I am not sure. In the ban announcement, the reasons laid out to justify the banning were as follows:
“It meets many of the heuristic markers for a banned card, insofar as it invalidates many other creatures as search targets and causes arguments about whether its use is degenerate or reasonable. It can be easily accelerated into on turn 4 or 5 (before players are expected to have extensive defenses or threats online), at which point it turns a reasonable ramp deck into uninteresting games”
Seriously, isn’t this reasoning applicable to the Sharuum player winning the game on turn 3 or 4 with an instant win combo? How is Sylvan Primordial more broken than Consecrated Sphinx, a creatures that goes in most blue based Commander decks? Jin-Gitaxias?
How is a deck that abuse Sylvan Primordial different from Stax decks that use cards like Winter Orb, Smokestack and Static Orb? Is Sylvan/Deadeye more abusive than Zur fetching Necropotence? Or any other two-card combo? You don’t even hear people wanting to ban Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, even though you can do more absurd things with him.
Hell, Sylvan Primordial doesn’t even win games on its own or even when it is combined with the usual suspects Deadeye Navigator or Rite of Replication.
The provided reasons can apply to all the examples I have made, and yet Sylvan Primordial, the least threatening of the group in my opinion, was banned. To those people that wanted Sylvan Primordial banned, I am sure you will find some other thing to complain about soon, but before it happens, good for you guys if you feel like you’re going to have more fun now with Sylvan banned.
To the people that decide on these things, I know you guys have a vision of what the Commander format should be like, but communicating that vision to us players becomes harder if you guys are not consistent with the way you decide on what cards to ban. You guys always talk about preserving the casual nature of Commander, but I think banning Sylvan Primordial does not support that. In end, you guys chose to ban what essentially for me, is just a utility creature that can easily be answered like all other awesome creatures before it.
People will eventually realize that what you did with the banned list hurt players that like to ramp into cool creatures and spells more than the players that like to play with a bunch of tutors, counters, instant speed removal, and instant win combo pieces. Not that I am complaining or against it; I am just saying that if this is the way you want people to play, then do not be surprised if more people switch to playing with Esper, or any blue/black based combo decks in the future.
2. New deck ideas and projects
I have been out for awhile now doing some real life duties and fatherly responsibilities so I have less time to build decks and write about them than before.
I just built a Grixis specter-tribal deck with Nicol Bolas as general. I know, I know, specters are harldy game breakers, but I think they are fun to play and can win games with their abilities. Naturally, I included typical tribal cards like Cover of Darkness and Door of Destinies, as well as cards that work well with specters such as Gravitational Shift and cards like Font of Mythos to make sure there are always cards for me to discard.
Am I missing something that can fit this theme? The list I made is dirt cheap (less than 8 tickets), but I have little time to test it now and as expected, my initial list can become clunky as specters get out-classed easily by other creatures with the same casting costing. Then again, I had so much fun trying to beat other people with what many consider as trash cards that it was worth it.
Another idea I have was inspired by an old-school theme deck I saw my friend played once. Basically, you are not allowed to play with any card that came out later than Modern legal sets (or something like that), so that means you play with cards that are severely underpowered, but more interesting for me compared to the quality of the newer cards they print. I honestly think this type of deck would get beat up in MTGO, but if you just want to try something new for a cheap cost, then going old-school is the way to go.
3. A shout out to Prossh, Skyraider of Wins and Victories
After playing what I consider a competitive Prossh deck for awhile now, I can honestly say that he is probably the most powerful Commander that came out of Commander 2013. Sure, Derevi just got banned in French Commander, but that is an entirely different format than the Commander we know in MTGO. You cannot just expect that Derevi would be just as abusive under regular Commander rules and ban list. But Prossh has shown the potential to dominate both duel and multiplayer Commander, much like Edric.
Prossh decks can seamlessly combine both aggro and combo strategies in a Jund shell that are often very difficult to deal with when built correctly. Even a budget version of Prossh is powerful enough to dominate a multiplayer game, whether you build around him, or just plug him into generic Jund control lists. Often, the Prossh player would just need to reach six mana to dominate. Trust me. I know I am exaggerating a bit, but if you want to build a deck that wins on raw power, then give Prossh a try.