My 2013 MTG Pro Tour Hall of Fame Ballot


In alphabetical order:

William Jensen
Chris Pikula
Luis Scott-Vargas
Ben Stark

Upon further consideration, I have decided to add a player to my ballot. I originally submitted only four players because I feel that it is a very high honor (Magic’s highest) to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and if I could not decide on a person to fill that fifth slot, then perhaps that slot on my ballot wasn’t meant to be filled. This is the first year in the three years I’ve been on the Selection Committee where I even considered not using all of my votes.

However, after submitting my ballot, I didn’t feel comfortable leaving that slot empty. Doing so implied that I felt there was not a single eligible player remaining on the list who was deserving of being in the Hall of Fame, and that is not exactly the case. With that in mind, I have decided to add Justin Gary to my ballot for the 2013 MTG Pro Tour Hall of Fame.

New ballot:

William Jensen
Chris Pikula
Luis Scott-Vargas
Ben Stark
Justin Gary

It Gets By With A Little Help From Its Friends

A pre-Worldwake look back at post-Zendikar blue.

Blue was never bad. Just not as good as we’re accustomed to.
A 450-lb man who loses 150 lbs—a full 33% of his body weight—would certainly not be considered “skinny” by any means.

This, I feel, sums up the current state of blue in Standard. While blue may have been worse between October and January than it ever has been, in hindsight I think it was a mistake to say it was “bad.” Counterspells were narrow and card-drawing was much less effective, true, but the color still had its strengths.

To wit: There was a time when many considered Morphling to be the best creature ever printed. With a wealth of abilities previously unheard of, Morphling could pump itself to 5/1, stack damage, and then become a 1/5; it could gain Flying; it could gain Shroud. It could untap itself, doing a passable impression of Vigilance.

Now compare Morphling to Sphinx of Jwar Isle:

     

For 1 additional mana, the Sphinx enters the battlefield with Flying. It enters the battlefield with Shroud. It enters the battlefield as a 5/5, and for all of these Morphling-esque characteristics it requires no more mana than the inital investment. It trades faux-Vigilance for an ability that—in a format with fetchlands, cascades, and soon Treasure Hunts—may be even more relevant. (Not to mention “Knowledge is Power” is the unofficial mantra of the blue mage, right?)

Could the Sphinx actually be better than Morphling?! Well, yes and no. It’s all about context, and when Morphling ruled the skies, blue spells were at their best. (And as much as I would’ve loved to see it, if Morphling were to have been reprinted it would likely occupy the slot in your trade binder right next to Meddling Mage.)

Still, the Sphinx exemplifies the quintessential blue finisher quite nicely: difficult to block, and easy to protect.

No, blue was not bad. Rather, it simply could not stand on its own. Yet, with another color or two along for support, blue found a way to stay strong. With a bit of persistence, blue-based control strategies started showing up as early as six weeks into the post-Zendikar format! At Worlds (late November), a Standard RWU Control deck was in the Team Finals, and Gerry Thompson unveiled his “Spread ‘Em” deck. As Conley Woods put it:

Typically, control decks are only able to emerge as “good” decks once a metagame as been firmly established. This is because the deck needs to know exactly what problems exist in order to determine which answers it must run. (Blue Uprising)

The difference between pre-Zendikar blue decks and those we’ve seen of late, as Conley goes on to point out, is that usually the counterspells are more versatile. This allows them to appear a bit earlier, as their answers don’t have to be so specifically tailored for the metagame. It is this loss of versatility, coupled with the loss of Instant-speed library manipulation, that fueled the perception of blue’s demise.

So, now we have Worldwake. Now we have the Mind Sculptor himself to help sculpt our hands into the ideal mix of answers and threats. We can dig for Treasure in the Halimar Depths, and accelerate our mana by drinking from the motherlovin’ cup. BLUE IS BACK!!!1!!

     

Not so fast. Let’s take a step back.

Blue mages—like starving children in a frenzy over a hunk of stale bread—have managed to drive the price of Jace, the Mind Sculptor to near-Baneslayer levels. I’m not exactly saying the price is unwarranted, because the card is certainly a piece of beauty, and I hope it’s every bit as good as people are expecting. But it has yet to prove itself. Had JtMS been released while Lorwyn was Standard-legal, I’d have been surprised to see it reach a pre-sale price half as high as it’s seeing now.

But, but…we’re SO HUNGRY!!

Worldwake is certainly giving blue a nice shot in the arm, don’t get me wrong. But I think we’re putting the cart before the horse, here. Blue mages are feeling so under-nourished from Zendikar that what may turn out to be a Happy Meal is looking like Thanksgiving Dinner.

So yes, go test your blue-based control decks. Play your Jaces, and your Treasure Hunts (I know I will be). But don’t set your expectations so highly that anything less than “bah-ro-ken” is a disappointment. I don’t think Mono Blue Control will be a reality, but pair it with a pal and I think blue control decks will be just fine.

BONUS:

A Yo! MTG Taps! Video Supplement – Coverage of the Worldwake Prerelease!

Recorded at Dream Wizards Games in Rockville, MD.

Apologies for low audio. We recorded with an iPhone, and I did my best to try to clean it up, but it’s still a bit iffy.

No footage of actual games, but hosts BigHeadJoe and Joey talk a bit about their experiences at the Magic: The Gathering – Worldwake prerelease.

Conley Did It!

Since Conley Woods essentially wrote the article that I’ve been mulling around in my head, instead of posting a rehash here I’m just going to go ahead and point you to his article over on Channel Fireball:

Blue Uprising!

Chins up, blue mages! Have confidence! While we may not have gotten the versatile counterspell that we wanted in Worldwake, as Conley points out, we did get a plethora of options for library manipulation and card draw. This should help to bolster blue-based control strategies a good deal. For those of us who bravely weathered the storm, it’s an exciting time to be playing blue!

Yo! MTG Taps! Episode 8 – Now Available!

Yo! MTG Taps! Episode 8 – Comment Storm is now available for download!


Check it out over on MTGCast!

We discuss the spoiled Worldwake prerelease foil Comet Storm! Should it be mythic? Also, we recommend a few non-storyline related MTG books to spend your Christmas money on!

[Anyone interested in hearing a bit of chatter on the NFL (mainly the Baltimore Ravens), stay tuned after the song at the end.]

**Be sure to check out Bigheadjoe’s addendum to this episode on his blog.

Get My Files by Zvi Mowshowitz and Deckade by Michael Flores over at Top8Games!

Download Next Level Magic by Patrick Chapin over at StarCityGames!

**NEW! Become a fan of Yo! MTG Taps! on Facebook!

**Check out Yo! MTG Taps! on YouTube!
See what we gave our friend Tim for Christmas. More videos to come.

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CURRENTLY READING: Peter & Max: A Fables Novel.