Hey everyone! We’re getting thrown for a loop this week (from October 13 to October 21, 2022) as we are heading back to the mean Streets of New Capenna for an alchemized version of draft, with 43 cards specifically rebalanced for it.
It’s being billed as “Planeshifted” since WotC doesn’t want to frighten people away with that scary alchemy term. Probably a wise decision on their part as it has certainly developed a stigma amongst parts of the player base. I am personally excited for this as it gives more options in the future when a draft format is as imbalanced as SNC was.
I sat down with my podcast partner and current #1 Mythic player Floridamun (who you should all be following) to talk about these changes and want to share our thoughts with you. What I’m going to do here is give you a general overview of what’s going on with it, how much each change matters, and how it will affect the format.
The first thing to talk about is that it looks like they focused on buffing cards instead of wailing on anything with the ol Nerf bat with the exception of A-Celestial Regulator which took a solid whack. That means that Inspiring Overseer is still lurking out there at full power with the hope that the new additions can rise up to unceremoniously knock it off its throne.
The next thing we need to do is talk about where we were as a format when we last checked in with SNC. It was really choosing between an aggressive deck in the Bant colors (full on Bant, Azorius, or Selesnya) or a control deck (Maestros, Obscura, or Dimir). The Riveteers decks were playable in extreme cases, but were more of a sign that the draft didn’t fall the way you planned.
Onto the changes!
Paragon of Modernity
We referred to this as Paragon of Mediocrity and it certainly lived up to the name. Adding an extra toughness might let it block a turn earlier, but doesn’t really change much of what it does. In the end, it’s still mostly a card that you want to draw during a late game board stall where you have a bunch of extra mana.
With the change, it lets you smoothly fit a tap land and popping this into your first two turns. This is a great buff as I was already happy running one of these in most Dimir or Grixis decks as it was. It helps provide a rare mana cost for getting five different costs in your graveyard while also fixing your mana. The late game random removal spell might not be very efficient, but is still much better than drawing another land in that situation.
Two straight up buffs to a card that I already played multiples of is pretty sick. It’s a good body that provides reach and sets you up with the scry. Turning the damage into a drain is going to make it even harder to resist this outlaw.
The toughness buff doesn’t really make sense here. I guess it lives through a-Ready to Rumble, but it’s not really going to effect your decision to play this. The reduction in activated ability cost is nice since it is gets your fixing online sooner, but isn’t a big enough difference to change your valuation.
This didn’t have any changes outside of the same reduction as the rest of the cycle. So view it about the same as you did before.
I would have preferred that they make this gain four life instead of adding the toughness buff. It would have added some nice design symmetry to the card.
See Rakish Revelers. Same cycle, same change, no real difference.
This usually didn’t have a problem dealing enough damage to whatever it targeted because it’s in the token colors. A much better buff would have been to ignore shields.
This got clobbered hard and went from a key card in the beatdown decks to more of a control card. It’s still fine when you’re racing in the air as it provides a decent body to block, but that’s a far cry from the tempo beast that it was.
This is definitely a downgrade, but not as extreme as some people have made it out to be. Even though it loses the ability to be unraceable through lifelink, the trample is a pretty sweet addition in a world with For the Family.
This was always an odd card that seemed like it should play out much better than it did. The extra power will certainly help it get more involved in combat instead of feeling a little underpowered for the cost.
Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder
Cracking in like a Craw Wurm can cause some serious damage for only four mana. The ability means that this got twice the buff that a lot of other creatures got. This was already one of the cards that could make Riveteers decent so it’s a valuable buff to try to make it a viable deck.
Queza, Augur of Agonies
Sure, I guess vigilance is cool and all, but there are a lot of combat tricks played in this set so Queza doesn’t end up in combat all that often unless you’re ok with losing them. Still a great card that is miserable to play against.
If you’re playing these colors and in the market for a big chonker, then you want this. The toughness change is minor, but better than nothing.
The change can really help you pop off if you are playing the combo version by digging for your other pieces. It certainly doesn’t go into every deck, but it is very important to the ones that it does go into.
Probably the biggest alchemy buff we got and it’s on a card that didn’t need it. This was a first pickable card out of some packs and now it has ward two. Yes please!
It now gains one more life as long as it’s still in play when the ability resolves. I’m not changing my valuation on this at all over that. It’s still at best a card 23 that I prefer is serving up drinks in my sideboard.
Adding an extra toughness on this actually matters more than you would think. It was always one of those whack a mole cards that’s really good in some cases and pretty atrocious in others. Being able to play one creature and attack as a 4/4 the next turn is so much better than it only having three toughness in the same situation where it’s being held back by a Gathering Throng. Still not great when they are just flying overhead, but more likely to make the cut now.
Buy Your Silence
One of the most overused phrases in Magic is “would be so much better as an instant” because it’s almost universally true. This will certainly put that theory to the test to see how big of a difference it can make. This was a break in case of emergency removal that you’d pick up late if you had no other interaction so while it’s technically better than that, it will probably still only be played in similar situations.
It does get around shields and by the time you cast this, the treasure might be negligible (key word being might, sometimes it gives them access to their splash or lets them drop their top end ahead of schedule). It will probably see more play in Obscura variants as most of the forms of Bant are more focused on double spelling and tricks than tapping out to remove one thing.
This is one of the rebalances that makes the least sense to me. Sewer Crocodile was already occasionally played as a top end threat, but the extra toughness just doesn’t change the value in any conceivable way. An extra power would have shortened the croc clock or a cost reduction might have even made it a premium card.
Affectionately known as Psionic Poop during the original run of SNC because of it’s less than stellar performance. If you weren’t in the market for a potential 1/4, are you really going to care if it’s a 1/5 instead?
A Divination with extra steps involved with the possibility to not trigger certainly doesn’t seem like a card that I want anything to do with. This was designed as a multiplayer card and even tossing an extra card on it doesn’t move the needle much for me.
Case the Joint
One of the important tenets of SNC draft was that raw card advantage wasn’t nearly as important because of all of the cards with built in value along with connive drawing you into straight gas. While the extra card is nice, making it a five-mana sorcery is a pretty big drawback that will probably make it unplayable.
Being able to drop two cards in the graveyard can be pretty sick if you have Graveyard Shift ready to go the next turn. If I have that and Dusk Mangler, I actively want one of these in my deck. It can also help trigger the five different casting costs in your graveyard at instant speed. I’d still rather just use connive to get there, but this is definitely a big step up from what it was.
This card was hilariously bad in its original form and being one mana cheaper isn’t going to suddenly make it playable.
An extra toughness can go a long way on a creature with deathtouch allowing it to effectively brick wall most two power creatures while still threatening to trade with their best attacker. This was already a solid sideboard card and would even get played in the main occasionally so it’s a definite upgrade, but still not something you want to run too many of.
This was already a great card that I was happy to play multiples of in the right deck. A straight buff makes it even better in any of the Dimir or Grixis piles. Bring on the Dusk Manglers!
Killing your opponents second best creature for two mana just never seemed to be worth it. It does literal nothing if they only have one creature and isn’t very effective against a pile of tokens. For one mana it can slide into your curve a lot easier, but still not going to be that great.
Deal Gone Bad
The three life can help you stabilize so this gets about a half a grade bump up from the original. It still helps set up your graveyard shenanigans and gets around shields so I don’t mind playing more than one of these now.
Decent buff since the extra toughness makes it much more likely that you’ll be able to set up a situation where you can blow out a double block. Another card that was already seeing play that got a decent buff.
Not having to worry about trading for a 1/1 citizen is nice. Still just a solid card with some decent versatility.
Ready to Rumble
Being able to break through shields is much more relevant than the instant speed addition, but I’m happy about getting both. Along with a-Deal Gone Bad, this really provides some options for not having to two for one yourself against shields.
No real change with this, it still is just a curve filler.
This helps race a little better now, but remains really fragile and you can usually find much better things to do for four mana.
The problems with this card had nothing to do with its power toughness and everything to do with needing the right shell to make it work. While it’s an “improvement”, it’s still going to be a build around that performs about the same.
Now this is actually an entirely different card. The instant speed let you hold up mana and use this as a trick to trigger when a creature enters the battlefield abilities like Elegant Entourage. The sorcery speed and extra mana actually make this worse than it was even with the extra 1/1 thrown in.
BREAKING NEWS: A horrible card becomes slightly less terrible. Still not going to be in your deck unless something has gone wrong.
Making this a 3/3 would have been a better buff than a 4/2. Incidental life gain is always underrated, but two toughness leaves this a bit too fragile to rumble into the red zone.
Because the train only being a 6/6 was the problem? Reducing crew cost or adding an ability would have been a much better change.
While this version is better when you’re getting beat down by flying decks, it’s much worse in other situations. This event only being Bo1 means that this is actually less likely to be played than it was in its original printing.
Another card that is really solid in a combo type shell, but doesn’t really want to get rowdy. It’s a much better blocker in those type of decks, but not a huge change in valuation.
How Does the Rebalances Affect the Format?
I’m sure your real question now is how does this all effect the format as a whole. Well, the good cards are still the good cards. You still have to watch out for the same tricks like For the Family, Majestic Metamorphosis, and Quick-Draw Dagger. The bombs are still bombs… I’m looking at you Sanctuary Warden and Hostile Takeover.
The Grixis (Maestros) control variants seem to have gotten the biggest boost and they were already in competition for the best decks in the format. While Wizards said their goal was to push more towards three color decks than the more popular two-color decks, I think the top end players of the format were already doing that.
The majority of the changes seem to be churning the shallow end of the draft pool with the hope of getting more out of cards that hadn’t seen much play outside of the early days of the format. Some of the clear design misses will continue to be misses, but they definitely made some changes that at least make you think about the cards in a different light.
Overall it’s a great step in the right direction and I look forward to WotC using the information from this and the HBG rebalance as learning experiences towards future design decisions.
Thanks for reading! I hope you are all as excited as I am to give this event a try as the concept of “fixing” draft formats provides a promising future for all of us fanatics who draft the sets into the ground. Be sure to keep checking back as I have a lot more exciting content coming soon!
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.
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