The Companion Mechanic was a huge mistake.
Posted on May 19, 2020, 6 p.m. by jaymc1130
I tried to give it some time to see how the mechanic worked in practice as opposed to theory before I formulated a true opinion on it, but I've reached a point where that opinion is formed.
Quite honestly, this is likely the single worst mechanic ever printed in MTG's entire history. Nothing about the mechanic is fair, everything about the mechanic completely warps game play in every single format in existence, and the truth of the matter is that at this point it's clear the only way for any deck to remain competitively viable is for it to include a companion. I can't stand it, I think this is dumb, I've not been this upset with WotC since Affinity demolished the scene and half the playing population stopped playing MTG entirely for a few years.
Having an extra card at the start of every game that is always accessible is an inordinately massive advantage over every previous iteration of a deck ever constructed and it really relegates all non companion decks to second class citizens.
I had a feeling after seeing the mechanic for the fist time that this is exactly what would happen and I'm extremely disappointed that it turned out to be the case. This last year or so worth of print runs has been devastating for MTG as far as I'm concerned. With Emry, Urza, Oko, Veil of Summer, and Once Upon a Time huge mistakes were made with individual cards, and now an entire mechanic that's an even bigger mistake. I've completely lost faith in the direction WotC is taking MTG and this bums me out something fierce.
I am one very sad individual in the middle of a pandemic where isolation is a must and the one thing I tend to like to do more than anything with loads of free time is less enjoyable than it has ever been.
Guess it's time to search youtube for cute animal videos to cheer me up.
Personally, I like the mechanic. It rewards decks built on a restrictions. Very similar to highlander decks in hearthstone. Outside of the cat and kraken the rest of the companions feel fair given their restrictions. I hope wizards continues to push the envelope.
May 19, 2020 7:18 p.m.
I actually don't think it rewards deck building restrictions. In fact, it's turning out to be rather the opposite in competitive play, it punished building a deck without those restrictions that allow you to play a companion. And let's be very real, the restrictions aren't all that "restrictive".
Lurrus decks all already run almost exclusively 1 and 2 drops. Decks that used to run a 3 drop here and there simply stopped running them, threw in Mishra's Baubles instead, and started running Lurrus to immense success.
Tron doesn't change a single thing about it's deck and gets to run a companion.
Gyruda wants to cheat clones into play. Almost all of which happen to be even mana costs in the first place.
Lutri straight up breaks Commander without those decks doing a single thing.
Yorian decks don't care about the "restriction" of extra cards when that just means it now gets to play 4 copies of what would have been it's singletons and most of it's cards are ETB cantrips that are only enhanced by the flicker effect the companion brings.
If you enjoy the mechanic that's fine, people enjoy different things. But I think we have to accept the objective fact that this mechanic was very poorly designed in the first place and the results were cards that wound up being "free" 8th cards in opening hands with zero real penalties or drawbacks.
May 19, 2020 8:38 p.m.
Commander and Pauper are the two safe formats. I guess other things like Block or Artisan or Canadian Highlander (Doesn't allow sideboards or Companions). Commander luckily doesn't let Yorion (the easiest one) to be run, and Lutri is Banned, Lurrus can only be run in Karlov or Ayli, two already weak decks, Keruga is bad, Gyruda is bad there too, and is just better as a commander, and the others are really medium for commander, Kaheera is cool, but not bad, Zirda is medium, and can't be run as a partner for many good decks, maybe Kenrith? but not overpowered.
For every other format I want them to be banned. Vintage included. These aren't Magic cards.
May 19, 2020 8:47 p.m.
WotC has always made good cards and new mechanics. They sometimes ban a card but they're gonna continue making new mechanics and cards. Your post is no different than all the people who think a card should be banned the moment it starts seeing play and being strong, it's up to the experts to ban a card or not. That's Magic-the-Gathering.
May 19, 2020 8:47 p.m.
I want to make a few points, both agreeing and disagreeing with OP.
1) My decks didn't need to change. I had 3 decks that I had been brewing for fun in Pioneer that I was able to just shove a Companion in with minimal changes. And I mean minimal.
2) Companion seems strong now, but after a month or so, most of the companions will fall out of favor. Lurrus is probably the only one, barring possibly Gyruda, that will affect Modern to any degree. To my knowledge, Lurrus has been banned in Legacy and Vintage(Lion's Eye Diamond, Black Lotus, and much much more) as well as Zirda in Legacy(Grim and Basalt Monolith were too easy to inf with. My friend spent half an hour brewing a Zirda combo deck, and I proxied many of the top tier Legacy decks and lost miserably. Might be the fact that I sucked at piloting, but it was absurdly effective.) I think Lurrus will go on to see the banhammer in Modern, and one or two more Companions will get shot by the end of 2021. Over a couple decades, I find it likely that they will all be banned, but only as support cards arrive to break them.
3) Companion isn't really that insane compared to things that have been banned in a variety of formats over the years, let alone recently or things still legal. Dredge in specific is insane. Faithless Looting allowed decks with Dredge in them to literally keep a 3 card hand and win. Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis lived in a shell where mulliganing meant little to nothing, and it was easy to win in turn three after starting with 4 cards in hand. The power of the Graveyard isn't that you get stuff for free or that it's fast -- it's the fact that Golgari Thug in your grave is equivalent to a one use zero mana draw one to five cards at random. Life from the Loam gives much more consistency as Lands count as cards drawn now. Graveyard decks used to be able to, and almost still can, mulligan heavily and still have more cards "in hand" than their opponent by the end of their first or second turn. Companion is one extra card. Golgari Grave-Troll laughs at your pathetic whining that Companion gives everybody one single extra card in hand when he's been giving his masters Ancestral Recalls for for decades. The only thing I can think of that makes Companion worse is the fact that Leyline of the Void can't touch it. If Wizards gives us "Leyline of Target Opponent can't use their sideboard or graveyard as a second hand anymore" then Companion is much worse.
May 19, 2020 9:52 p.m.
My post has nothing what so ever to do with cards being banned. I don't care about strong cards, those are fine by me.
What I care about, and clearly what most of the community cares about, is fundamentally game warping cards that completely change the way magic is supposed to be played.
It's up to the players to purchase quality product, and the current MTG product is not high quality. It's extremely subpar. If players stop playing magic they stop buying cards, if players stop buying cards the game ceases to exist. You and I are clearly worried about entirely separate things: You care about bans for some reason, I care about a game that I love, that I've played for almost 27 years now, that I own over $100k worth of cards for as part of a collective, possibly ceasing to exist and potentially negating a massive financial investment. I doubt you were around for the original Mirrodin block, but that happened to be the peak of my playing career as a semi professional player and I definitely suffered financially as a result of a massive portion of the community quitting magic and refusing to support a product they didn't believe in with their purchasing power. That's business.
May 19, 2020 10:02 p.m.
Some of the worse companions are akin to a single extra card.
Lurrus, Yorian, and Gyruda are not. These are just as, and in most cases, more powerful than the dredge mechanic as they are often also free Ancestral Recalls.
Gyruda clone chains are essentially more powerful versions of what dredge does. Dredge almost always needs a few turns of dredging to cycle through a deck. Gyruda can often do this in a single turn to win the game off an Oracle. A lot of the time when Gyruda gets played as the extra 8th card that can't be Thoughtseized or effectively Path to Exiled it "draws" and "plays" the whole deck in one go to win the game.
Yorian is regularly coming into play while generating 3+ fresh cards, resets on planeswalkers, etc while also having the same complications in interacting with it.
Lurrus is generating absurd card draw, often well more than an Ancestral Recall's worth, and is flexible in it's options as the permanents that can return can do a multitude of things.
Your analysis of a "single extra card" is not really on point here. They are a single extra card that is impossible to interact with in opening hands that are almost assured of being able to be played which then generates many, many, many, more resources for the player casting the companion.
And lastly, Drannith does exist, and was clearly intended as a check on the power of the companion mechanic. The problem is that this card is extremely easy to interact with. It dies to Bolts and Pushes and is vulnerable to hand disruption. It's existence is mostly irrelevant because even though it's clearly designed in a space to combat the companion mechanic it can't actually effectively do so because it has standard Magic card points of vulnerability while the companions are granted immunity to those same vulnerabilities.
May 19, 2020 10:17 p.m.
The companions all have opturnity costs outside of eternal formats. Also, the new sets to my knowledge are tailored to standard. Expecting RnD to account for every format is absurd and would limit design space. Wizards took proper steps in dealing with the problem they created and the cat is gone. It's always the cats fault. Wizards just needs to ban all cats.
May 19, 2020 10:22 p.m.
I like the mechanic. Having to build your deck around a restriction and you get a reward but they made the restrictions to minimal on many of them. I think a simple fix would just be an ereta where you start with 6 cards in your hand instead of 7 or something to that effect.
May 19, 2020 10:45 p.m.
- 4) Urza and Emry weren't the problem, and I don't think Hogaak was either. They're far too powerful to have been "mistakes". I think Wizards printed them specifically because they needed a reason to ban Faithless and Mox.
jaymc1130 Lurrus, Gyruda and possibly Yorion are banworthy. Gyruda specifically because it's a boring combo deck that's not even interesting or complicated, who cares if it's good.
However, while Yorion and Lurrus may amount to 5+ cards of value, I want to point out that Dredge does a pretty good Ancestral Recall + Black Lotus imitation every single turn. Best Lurrus can do is 3-mana one-sided Howling Mine, and best Yorion can do is Eerie Interlude. Magic survived Dredge(after some bannings), and Magic will survive companion.
May 19, 2020 11:02 p.m.
That's certainly been discussed in the community. If the rules for companion were altered to dictate that you reveal your companion, mulligan and decide on a hand normally, then, after deciding to keep a hand, scry one of your cards in hand to the bottom it's a good tweak to the companion rule that would bring it more in line with what appropriate MTG has always been. What it won't fix is that in formats outside of commander you now have "commanders". While I'd be all for such a change, it won't do anything to restore my faith in a company that very clearly has lost their minds. What's happened to every format since the printing of Hogaak and a slew of other clearly and obviously unbalanced cards in a tiny number of back to back to back sets is extremely alarming. Either RD has stopped testing cards, lacks personnel capable of properly analyzing cards they are testing, or doesn't care that the cards they are making are breaking the game in ways that can't be fixed and that cause major upsets within the market space. It makes all the WotC talk about their concern for the financial stability of the secondary marketplace seem extremely disingenuous.
May 19, 2020 11:08 p.m.
You're kind of missing the point.
Let's just think about Dredge here and not even consider older issues such as Storm or Affinity. Dredge, as a mechanic, was so incredibly busted that WotC had to spend years coming up with new cards with new rules to combat the fact that they had screwed up very badly. Graveyard replacement effects, the inability to cast from graveyards, creatures being incapable of entering the battlefield from certain zones, the list goes on and on. Dozens of cards had to be created specifically to combat a single bad mechanic over the course of almost a decade and the mechanic is still breaking the game at times. This is the real concern here, that WotC is not learning the lessons from previous mistakes and is, in fact, repeating them to the detriment of the product and the community that uses it.
The companion mechanic is just as awful, or even worse, than dredge and will also require a decade of course correction to solve the issues. This is not the kind of thing that instills faith in a consumer base and is a sign that the company producing the product is no longer concerned with the quality of the product they produce. I can make my peace with powerful cards from time to time. What I, and many people, cannot make peace with is a company that no longer cares about the product they produce or the consumers they serve.
May 19, 2020 11:18 p.m.
Companion is turning out to be a bad mechanic - looking at any MTG content site, most decks right now list three things as their naming convention - colors, archetype and companion. "Lurrus Grixis Death's Shadow", "Zirda Jeskai Cycling", etc.
Literally no mechanic has been so ubiquitous to change that. No mechanic should be. I do not think the mechanic should exist as is and Wizards have stated that they are willing to change how companion mechanic works if necessary.
Additionally, I would like to complain about Ikoria as a set - outside of companion and maybe the trilands, nothing in that set is actually good. If you exclude companions, the set has contributed almost nothing to formats in Magic.
Finally, I think Sam Black has managed back in the beginning of April to summarize all of the gripes of this issue:
May 20, 2020 2:38 a.m.
Here is my opinion on the matter:
Companions are in my opinion, a terrible mistake. That said, MTG is what you make MTG. You decide if you like a format or if it's fun, no matter which cards are currently 'ruining' your play experience. You can still have fun playing magic even if WoTC unbanned every card in every format, you just have to accept that magic isn't what you want it to be.
WoTC hasn't 'given up' on any format, they aren't trying to ruin your play experience, and they certainly aren't trying to get more cards banned. I don't much like companions, but they will either stick around and we will adapt, or they will get banned/changed in a way that most players will be able to accept them.
This mechanic is not dredge, phyrexian mana, storm, whatever. Stop compairing it to other mechanics you don't like/think are to powerful, don't draw lines that don't exist.There is no 'companion' deck like there is a 'dredge' deck, these cards have not spawned new archtypes based around the mechainic (Unless you count gyruda reainimator/combo decks- I don't). You can't just throw a bunch of cards with the companion mechanic and add a few support cards and call it a deck. At least there is that, which makes this mechanic better than dredge in some ways.
There is no counterplay to companions and there never will be. The philisophy of the mechanic prevent that. Why play a card to stop a companion when it didn't cost your opponent anything? Against dredge deck R.I.P. is often more than a 5-for-1, companions are many things, but they don't warp decks in a way that makes hate cards ever playable, they merely add to other decks. Often just ampilfying your deck and not adding a different angle of attack to it means the restrictions on companion deck building avoided the worst mistakes.
Companions have taken over the meta, yes: But they haven't destroyed it. Even if 9/10 top decks have to play a companion, there are still 10 top decks. Companions were an absolute oversight comp-wise, but they weren't the dumpster fire everyone is making them out to be.
That dosen't mean I have to like them though.
Tl;dr: Stop making companions worse than they are, even if they shouldn't be what they are.
May 20, 2020 3:38 a.m.
I actually believe the biggest problem with them is that they're criminally undercosted. I appreciate the innovation, but conceptually, a card that is always in your hand should have a huge opportunity cost to cast, a late game payoff for building your deck with restrictions. Even Lurrus of the Dream-Den would be acceptable if it cost 7 mana, imho.
May 20, 2020 4:10 a.m.
Flooremoji - I cannot understand the point - how can you say that companions are simultaneously taking every format over, transforming every format into a "play a companion or GTFO" ("Companions have taken over the meta, yes: But they haven't destroyed it. Even if 9/10 top decks have to play a companion, there are still 10 top decks").
Cards have been banned for much less 90%+ meta dominance.
Additionally, it is completely fair to compare this to other mechanics - heck, some have even compared this to the Extra deck in Yu-gi-oh and that is not that far off. Dredge is the start of the "graveyard-as-an-extra-hand" mechanics, phyrexian mana shatters the fundamental color wheel, etc. Game-breaking mechanics that became ubiquitous over multiple formats are worth comparing to the newest one.
" they will either stick around and we will adapt, or they will get banned/changed in a way that most players will be able to accept them." - given that they are already banned in several formats, most/all of them will be at some point.
Companions changed every format. There is no format where they are legal to play that is untouched by them. If a new card that comes out has to banned in a format like Vintage where there is no banlist basically, you done effed up.
May 20, 2020 5:19 a.m.
Hot take police!!!
Most of them are a one off spell or effect that requires you to drastically alter the make-up of the deck just to get that extra single use of a card.
Nothing has dictated the make up of a deck in such a way, which requires a lot of working around for the extra card benefit. Your saying "I want you to only play things that cost 2 or less, so that you can play a creature (WITH NO PROTECTION) that lets you play SPELLS that cost 2 or less ONCE". Can it be really good, for sure. Is every single competitive deck going to want to make that sacrifice for a chance at recurring 2cmc or less spells once, probably not. And Lurrus of the Dream-Den is one of the best companions.
For the above comment^^^ Cards being banned for less than 90% meta dominance... its just that, CARDS. Individual cards. If one particular companion keeps showing up in 90% of competitive decks, we will talk ban, but you wouldn't say BAN ALL CARDS WITH DELVE OR CONVOKE just because Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis is OP.
Again, good but there isn't any reason to be this upset just yet.
May 20, 2020 8:40 a.m.
After another night of thinking, I got a couple new points.
Wizards didn't think about Commander or Vintage when they though up Companion. I don't know how you forget two entire formats, both of which drive a lot of prices(although Vintage is only a few bucks on a few non-reserved list cards, it's still substantial), but it seems they did. Maybe Ikoria was a little rushed.
Wizards cannot actually care about the secondary market. In fact, if they say anything that implies its existence, they can and will be sued into oblivion by the law. Underaged gambling, also known as loot boxes, has been straight-up illegal in many other countries for a couple years now. Wizards knows this, and as such publicly denies the possibility that any card can have any sort of value outside of the product they create. They will never care, they will never be able to care how much you or I spent on a card. The most they can do is make decisions that wouldn't be logical without a secondary market, like waiting a few months to ban a card.
On the note of Wizards not caring about your card pricetag, if anyone gets put off or angry because Wizards banned a card, it's your own fault and shut up. I would have agreed that banning sucks back in Splinter Twin times, but Kaladesh forward? Stop spending hundreds of dollars on cards that nobody else wants to play against, and that you're only buying so that you can be competitive. Play EDH for a month, your friends'l be doing it. Go be a human being instead of literally paying for a period of time where your hobby becomes miserable, knowing that you will never get that money or time back.
Everybody is still screaming about a mechanic.... because it's used by most decks and because it equals extra cards in hand. Now, that could be balanced.... but most of the companions, outside Standard, don't do much. Kaheera, the Orphanguard won't see Eternal play for years, Umori's trash, Lutri can't even be your companion, Jegantha sucks. It's not the mechanic, it's a couple specific cards within the mechanic. Also known as Lurrus and Gyruda. Yorion is just a glorified Eerie Interlude that will see play in decks that already had that effect, it just couldn't hit Planeswalkers. Which are a completely pointless use of your time unless you are minusing them. Ulting is nearly pointless because at that point in a flicker deck, you already have 40 power on board and a 15 card hand. And the power is in flying creatures.
Look at Standard. The only real decks that Ikoria made is Cycling. The Companions changed nothing about the metagame. They just slotted into the already tier one decks.
Now look at Modern. On Apr 24th, the meta sucked. I see 4 maybe 5-6 if you count aggro as fun decks out of... 13. Urza, Snowblade, Niv to Light, Chalice of the Void.dec, Dredge, Infect.... it's extremely fast or extremely disruptive. Now, we have many more decks that have been fun and fair or at least not too absurd to play with that are legal. Rock, Bogles, Electrobalance, Hardened Scales, Death's Shadow, Mefolk, Eldrazi n Taxes, Goblins, Living End -- all solid, not broken decks that are fun and mostly interesting. Lurrus fixed Modern.
Literally. With Lurrus alone, you can have:
Death n Taxes
Even Dredge or Control.
https://web.archive.org/web/20190914011709/https://www.mtggoldfish.com/metagame/modern/full for reference.
Lurrus alone gave Modern life I never thought it would get back. Lurrus gives me hope that Modern can be fun and balanced again, instead of a Vintage Lite. I don't want to play Vintage. Vintage is for other people. Pioneer's nice, but it's got a different feel from the earthy, brewable loam that Modern once was and has become again. Think of Modern as that nice coffee you go for every once in a while to cool off and relax. It's a little expensive, but it's worth it. It's what you really crave. Quality. But you can mix it up just a little. Pioneer's more like a caffeinated soda. Not perfect, but it tastes good and makes you feel alive. A little more refined than Modern, a few different rules, but that's okay. Compare that to Vintage, which feels like looking at a pile of gold nobody wants to touch because none of your friends could pay you back if it got scratched. I mean, maybe if you both had "gold" spray-painted things it would be fine, but maybe your friend objects. Maybe you don't want to proxy what you already own.
Tangent aside, I like what Lurrus is doing. He's healing Modern. If you're too used to Modern being Vintage Lite and can't stand decent gameplay, feel free to sell out of it and make my entry cheaper.
I do think Mishra's Bauble and Gyruda should be banned, though. Bauble's not healthy for Modern while Lurrus is around; it forces the meta to be Lurrus and only Lurrus. But ban Bauble, and you get rid of another more obnoxious deck archetype or three and now Modern is playable again! Modern will finally be what it was when I started Magic, back when I couldn't afford it but wanted desperately to be in on the format worth playing. Hopefully nothing Wizards does will torch it again.
May 20, 2020 9:17 a.m.
TriusMalarky I agree with most of these, except the final part about Lurrus. It is buh-roken. Historically, whenever a card forces mainboard grave hate into the format, it has been rightfully banned.
Imagine having Snapcaster mage trigger every turn. Would that be broken? So how about a card that gets your permanents, including your Snapcaster mage who'll get your spells out of the grave for you every turn, and is a perfect sideboard card against burn, except you can board it in game 1.
Heck Lurrus would even be borderline broken/banworthy without the companion mechanic, ihmo.
May 20, 2020 9:32 a.m. Edited.
sergiodelrio yes, Lurrus is absurd, but that's why it's needed. We need Lurrus to create a Modern that's not Urza or Snow. Lurrus is so generically powerful, rather than specifically powerful, that you can jam it into Merfolk and Merfolk then gets better.
I think that, while people don't want a format dominated by one specific card, I prefer having to buy one $10 card than being forced into some disgusting deck that's too powerful for the format, not to mention unfun. I think a Modern where you can play almost anything as long as you buy a Lurrus is a fine Modern -- it's just like saying you have to buy fetchlands.
Lurrus is powerful, yes, but that's exactly why he's good for Modern. His raw power is so generically powerful that you can take any halfway decent tier two or three deck, jam him in, and suddenly you have a competitive tier one deck. Literally you can brew whatever, make sure it's a decent deck on it's own even if it might not win, and spend another $10 for Lurrus and be able to take a Grand Prix on skill alone.
And it's not like it blocks budget players either, which is the best part. I can play monowhite Hatebear Soul Sisters with Lurrus in Modern for less than $200, which is a third of the price of the cheaper t1 decks just right now and I can guarantee you that I can win a decent number of games with it. I mean, it gets free graveyard hate! It gets free Burn hate! I mean, what the heck, it just gets to mainboard cards that shank everyone else, but it's carried by the card that everyone else is running and it's cheap enough to buy into.
May 20, 2020 10 a.m.
DarkHero - even if they are a 5/5 vanilla creature for 5 mana, like Jegantha is in most cases, you can play it in monogreen Tron for no deckbuilding cost. So, why not?
If the deckbuilding cost is minimal, why would you not do it? If the deckbuilding cost to include a companion is high, should even be playing the deck and not another deck that gets a free card?
The real deckbuilding cost is that other decks are strangled out.
Lurrus is a 3/2 lifelink, which a respectable body, akin to a Kitchen Finks that gets another card for basically. In Vintage, you could go Black Lotus, Lurrus, recast lotus. In modern, it basically asks the question "Have you played a Mishra's Bauble this game? If so, would like to cast a Rogue Refiner with lifelink?"
Lets also talk about mechanics being banned for less than 90% dominance.
Affinity - 7 cards banned in Standard (Arcbound Ravager, Disciple of the Vault and the 5 artifact lands) - none of them were related to the mechanic, but all of them were banned because of the Affinity mechanic. The five artifact lands were also on the first Modern banlist.
Dredge - Golgari Grave-Troll still holds the honor of the only unbanned card in Modern that was re-banned. Still a menace in Vintage, because not casting cards to win is super good.
Phyrexian mana - continues to see bans till last year, with Gitaxian Probe being banned.
The reason why not all cards with these broken mechanics were banned in the respective formats they broke was that once you ban the good ones, the mechanic stops being oppressive. However, the difference with companion is that while affinity, phyrexian mana and dredge have few powerful cards and many weak ones. Nobody is clamoring for the ban of Magmatic Sinkhole, because its effect is not comparable with Treasure Cruise.
However, there are only 10 companions, they are all rares and they all stat'ed to be competitive.
Since Lurrus was banned in Vintage, several Vintage just switched to Lutri, since the singleton restriction is just not that severe in Vintage. If Lutri is banned, Yorion will replace it. Requiring to play 80 cards is hardly a restriction since you have access to the entire card pool. If Yorion is banned, they will switch to Jegantha, as the most powerful restricted cards have only one mana symbol.
I think that if the only available companion costed , had no deck-building restriction, and was a vanilla 2/2 creature, I would still play it, as there is no downside to doing so.
May 20, 2020 10:09 a.m.
TriusMalarky I understand where you're coming from, but that medicine will quickly turn into poison and here's why:
Yes, there are a number of decks that get a lot better with Lurrus and little opportunity cost to include it. But when the dust settles, it'll come down to "who breaks it more?". One deck will finally emerge that abuses Lurrus' to a point where it becomes a Tier 0 deck.
The best case scenario is that no one would break the card, but then, instead, there will be an even bigger gap towards T2 and T3 decks ultimately killing deck diversity and making this a Lurrus format.
Do you really believe this card would stay at 10$ if they insist to leave it in? It's only so "cheap" because of the uncertainty right now.
Finally, I acknowledge your concerns about the prior meta, but the remedy can't be one card or mechanic. Rather, we'd need a Modern Horizons approach that injects cards of the same power level into the format, not cards above it. It will always result in the strongest decks becoming even stronger
May 20, 2020 10:15 a.m.
Ok, so let me refocus the issue some since some people still don’t quite get the point.
It’s not about companions being ban worthy or not. This is irrelevant.
It’s not about whether or not some players enjoy companions. This is irrelevant.
This is purely about the state of health of MTG as a whole and how companions affect it.
Companions are a must run inclusion for any deck, in any format (including limited formats, which is absolutely ridiculous), for a deck to be successful in a competitive setting to any degree what so ever. What this means for MTG as a whole is that the barrier to play a game in a competitive setting is dictated completely and entirely by the ability to purchase and use a specific set of cards. Historically, this has always been an issue with formats such as Vintage where the barrier to play the format at all is astronomically high from a financial investment standpoint. You must, in order to compete in that format, be playing thibga like Moxen and other $1000 singleton cards in order to stand any chance of truly participating in the format. Now, after the printing of Companions, EVERY format has this same barrier to entry and it relegates the vast overwhelming majority of the playerbase to sideline positions due to the investment cost of that entry barrier.
This is not healthy for Magic in any way, shape, or form. Not everybody has card collections of $100k+ like I do. Not every player will be able to easily adapt to these new circumstances and play whatever they wish when they wish, compete in any setting they so choose from casual to tournament. I, and much of the community, fundamentally disagree with the creation of any product that sets an entry barrier of this sort, one that prevents most of the community from participating. The fact that I am unaffected is irrelevant, the fact that I don’t really enjoy companions is irrelevant. What is relevant is WotC creating a new unbalanced, financially intensive and volatile entry barrier that excludes, or potentially excludes, most of it’s consumers from participating in a fashion that WotC has steadfastly and adamantly proclaimed they would not do for most of the last 2 decades. If it was dead obvious to me that this would occur the split second after seeing the mechanic, then it must have also been obvious to those working on the product’s creation (and clearly this is the case given Sam Black and some other individuals’ exposition on the subject).
In such circumstances the only explanation people can reasonably be left with is that we’ve been lied to by a company we believed in for years on end and this is what bums me out.
May 20, 2020 10:35 a.m.
Ummm..... None of the companions are currently a budget barrier. jaymc1130 right now it's no worse than having to run rare lands to be competitive. I could see Lurrus getting pricey, but.... other than Lurrus(which I think doesn't need any more bannings, just a reprint in a year or two) and Gyruda(who needs a Modern ban just because he's unfun, but he's not that good so...), none of the companions are very expensive. I picked up 4 for $5. I'll probably pick up one of each of the rest except maybe Lurrus and Gyruda, and Lurrus only because I'm waiting a couple months to see if he gets banned in Modern. And I'm a dedicated budget player -- I only play at the absolute cheapest level that I can play without costing myself significant amounts of power. I don't play Snapcasters because I have other strategies that are cheaper and just as fun. I don't need Damnation when I can run Languish or Ritual of Soot and be at 90% power. I play cheap, and companions have done nothing.
Now, does that mean they won't do anything in the future? No. I can see them being $5 each a few years from now. But it that a price barrier? No. That's less expensive than saying "play Path to Exile, Fatal Push or Lightning Bolt or risk being a tier 5 deck in Modern". It's more affordable than getting a low tier subpar manabase for Standard or Pioneer. Even if they hit $10 this would still be true. At $20 they'd be worth it and maybe be on the steeper side -- but you can literally buy one, once. Like lands. The only way they'd ever be a real honest-to-goodness price barrier to formats where you're paying $500+ per deck is if they hit $50-100 bare minimum. Even then, people would run them. It would be harder, yes, but people bought $100 Scalding Tarns by the playset. Now, realize that absolutely no non-"promo"(Including Expeditions and Invocations and Inventions) card in the past 5-10 years has actually hit $100. If you back far enough, you get Lili and Jace the Wallet Sculptor, but you have to be going back far and find absolute absurd cards that are used in playsets in Legacy and Vintage, and very powerful in EDH that hit that kind of pricetag.
sergiodelrio That might happen. I think, if Bauble is banned, then Lurrus has an extremely good chance at fixing Modern. Of course, he may need to be banned in a year or two after a few more powerful cards come out, but that's a small price to pay for a format that will go back to enjoyable for at least that time period, if not longer(He might push out a lot of the unfun decks and people will buy into more fun decks, and we'll just see a lot less garbage for a few years). I think you're looking at the absolute worst case scenario, while I'm looking at something admittedly optimistic but also more realistic. Lurrus isn't Oko -- he doesn't kill entire strategies. He's also not Copter -- he's not an effectively Hexproof win condition that generates value. He's an easily killable not-great value engine that is also stopped by graveyard hate quite easily. Saying Lurrus is too absurd is like saying Snapcaster is absurd -- he's not that bad. Yes, he will be a staple for years to come, and yes he will be in half the Modern decks, but that's no worse than every Modern deck running Path or Push or Bolt.
I think people are freaking out about things they know nothing about. Have you seen the last few years? Have you been around during spoiler season for sets from Ixalan forward? Have you seen all the cards that are SO FREAKING BROKEN that die off in a week? Have you seen the community's ability to gauge card power? People freak out about this kind of thing every set. Companion just lends itself so well. London Mulligan didn't break the game, Arena never killed paper Magic, the God Eternals see minimal play in 60-card formats. The Dominaria buy-a-box promo never ruled Standard, or Modern, or Commander. You will freak out about Companion until Core Set Teferi is spoiled, and then you'll freak about Teferi. Then you'll freak about whatever's in Zendikar, and the next set. But you'll keep coming back to the game because the mechanic or card didn't break it.
Oko was a problem. Hogaak was a problem. Urza paired with Mox Opal was a problem. Storm was a problem. Nexus was a problem. Companion is another step in Magic's journey, and it won't go down as Phyrexian Mana. It's not that powerful. It's not that ubiquitous. Yes, it will change the game forever, but no, it won't make any deck too powerful or any one strategy too good. In fact, watch for more Companions -- the mechanic gets much less absurd the more of them there are. Watch for 10-20 more Companions in the next couple years. There's a solid chance that they'll come. And the more there are, the less powerful they can be and the more diverse the game becomes.
May 20, 2020 12:13 p.m.
TriusMalarky Sir, I'm not complaining about companion as a mechanic. I actually appreciate the innovation and look forward to new but somewhat weaker companions. Also, please don't make a point where it looks like I have been complaining over the years, and now I complain because that's what I do. Just not true.
Please tell me, from your pov, would this card be broken?:
Legendary human wizard
Companion - Each card in your deck is CMC<=2
random keyword maybe Flash
During each of your turns, you may cast one instant or sorcery spell with converted mana cost 2 or less from your graveyard.
Be honest. If your answer is yes, we might as well stop discussing at this point, as our definitions of broken would be too far apart.
I strongly disagree with your assumption that Lurrus will increase the number of playable decks/ push lower tiered decks. What you're not seeing is the impact on those other decks that are not on your radar. The decks you mentioned that would allegedly benefit from it will still be as playable as before due to the decks that make better use of it. T2/T3 decks are not in need for an overcard to become viable. To become better, they need to improve upon the things they already do.
Either way, this issue will take care of itself eventually one way or another, and we'll have to wait and see it unfold.
May 20, 2020 12:45 p.m.
*Edit: meant to say "if your answer is no" sorry bout that
May 20, 2020 12:55 p.m.
I have been playing since Mercadian Masques came out. Through the years, Magic has made a lot of changes, this being one of the big ones. The past few sets remind me of the Urza block. Magic changes. That is how it stays relevant. Look at the introduction of plainswalkers. Same thing was said at my LGS about them. It altars the game. In the end, that is what magic is. Changing. Evolving. Mutating into something we will hopefully enjoy.
May 20, 2020 1:59 p.m.
Black Lotus wasn't a financial barrier either. Nor was Force of Will. Nor the Moxen, or any of the Power 9. Same for your Sol Rings, Mana Crypts, Necropotences, and Timetwisters. None of these cards was, INITIALLY, a financial hurdle to overcome just to play a particular format.
But time passes, dominance of particular cards leads to inflating values and eventually these companions will be inordinately valuable. We're talkng multiple hundreds of dollars or potentially even over $1000 for some. That is how powerful these cards and this mechanic is. The only way this does not happen is if they are so powerful they get banned outright in every format aside from Vintage, and even in this case they will still rise in price.
This means a few things. First, that entry barrier will grow larger over time meaning newer players will be excluded from various formats in the same way most of you folks are excluded from playing Vintage and Legacy but I am not. Second, that because of the power of these cards and the likelihood of bans being issued the price of these cards will be volatile until such bans are issued which makes any investment in them risky financially, but a requirement competitively (see: Oko, Hogaak, Jace TMS, Windfall, Memory Jar, Arcbound Ravager, etc). Third, that deck building, particularly in the older and eternal formats will become even more homogenized than it already is. In competitive Vintage half of the deck slots in any given deck are identical or nearly identical, all the fast mana cards, standard interaction pieces, standard threats, standard mana bases. Companions bring this flaw to EVERY format, pushing all decks to run these golden standards because only these standards are competitive enough to yield results.
I don't really know how long you've been playing MTG, but just from your posts it seems clear that there are many major events in MTG history that you weren't part of and therefore have little or no experience with. I can tell you stories about Combo Winter and the crazyness of the market because I lived through that, competed through that, and quit playing/buying for almost a year because of that. I can tell you the same stories about Affinity half a decade later. I can tell you the same stories about the return to the Mirrodin block a half a decade after that. Historically, these types of card printings have never been good for MTG health. Players dislike it, the marketplace dislikes it, and it drives huge numbers of player away from the game and some retailers and local game shops never recover. Again, this is NOT about companion cards and how they fit into the meta space, it's about how the meta space being warped by these cards places MTG as a whole on a precipice that in the past has lead to major declines in participation from both consumers and players. Each instance of releases with cards this potent has lead to major downturns for MTG as a community and a market that has always taken many years to recover from. And this might be the most dramatic instance of such a release in the entire history of Magic since Alpha.
May 20, 2020 2:15 p.m.
I do not think Companion is broken on its face, and I think some of the Companions prove that adequately. However, it is a very dangerous mechanic, and one Wizards should have been more careful with.
To start, Companion basically tutors an extra card to your opening hand. Extra cards in your opening hand? Library of Alexandria is banned in Legacy, Commander, and restricted in Vintage for that reason, giving Wizards cause to be weary. Tutoring a card you have built around to your hand? Tutors are prominent members of the Legacy banlist and Vintage restricted list (and frequently banned in EDH homerules).
So, we know that these types of effect can be problematic and need to be carefully balanced. It was during the balance stage, not the conceptualization stage, where Wizards made their mistake.
Several of the companions do succeed in balance. They combine significant restrictions with abilities that are useful, but also limited in scope. Copying spells? That's a good ability--but having your deck be singleton is a huge downside. A small tribal bonus to a limited number of tribes? Easy to insert into that deck, but a tribal anthem is not too game-breaking. Had all the companions followed the "stringent restriction-high cost" or "medium restriction-low value" pattern of some of the more mediocre ones, I think the mechanic could have been fine....
But they didn't follow that pattern. Too many of the companions were low-restriction-high-value. Activated abilities are easy to come by; lots of the best cards in the game cost 2 or less; 20 more cards is mitigated by the redundancy created by the thousands of cards printed. Combine those low-restrictions with high combo value--where having a combo piece always in your hand is disproportionately strong--and you have a recipe for disaster.
Wizards really should have know better than to put low-restrictions on high-value cards, but, as Oko and others have shown, they don't always do a good job at valuing their own cards' potential.
I know they said they were open to changing how the companion mechanic works, and might do so if the mechanic retains a high degree of competitive dominance--it will be interesting to see if they do so, and what form that restriction takes.
May 20, 2020 3:04 p.m.
Difficult to empathize with 100k worth of investment in a hobby card-game. Niche collector games are notoriously volatile. It all seems like an overreaction to me, I don't really see how all the casuals are going to suddenly stop spending $ because of this mechanic. Maybe you should sell your stock now if you fear it will plummet?
May 20, 2020 7:45 p.m.
It's not a decision purely up to me. Myself, my little brother, and two of our childhood friends are part of this collective. That trove of cards takes up space in more than one garage and represents our combined collection efforts over 80% of our lives, a full century's worth of time. Magic has always been something we moved in and out of over that span and usually it's been these types of releases that saw us all stop playing and buying. It's hard to reach a consensus on selling the entire collection and the prevailing opinion is that it's premature. But make no mistake, this money represents college funds for children, or their wedding expenses, or purchase of a new home and any other large scale potential monetary investment any one in our group might have to make. Much of the expensive stuff is older cards and about the only things we don't have full play sets of are the Power 9. If we suspect the market for these pieces to make any drastic downward movement we'd rather be forced to sell now to realize the financial potential the collection represents. But doing so is precisely what will cause market turmoil. If all the folks out there with these types of collections begin to fear for the continued existence of MTG and sell off these types of collections that's when their value plummets. Not only could selling hurt us just as much as waiting, but it could hurt all the other lifetime collectors out there in a very big way. These are not easy decisions to make in these times, not only because of the state of MTG at the moment, but also the state of the world wide economy in the middle of a pandemic.
As a side note, it's not really casual players that drive the market for Magic cards. They never have. They represent something like 75-95% of the player base but only represent 10-20% of the revenue stream within the market. Professional players and collectors have always represented the lion's share of the money exchanging hands for Magic cards, both directly to WotC and to the small businesses that sell their product such as Channel Fireball, Strike Zone, or your local game shop.
May 20, 2020 8:08 p.m.
to be fair, nobody ran 80 card decks until Yorion was a thing. It was either 60 or you were trying to jank Battle of Wits for fun. Lurrus is, admittedly, low restriction high value, but only for Modern, Legacy and Vintage. Pioneer and EDH are unaffected, and Standard won't see much of him.
Zirda was a problem in Legacy because the consistent infinite mana combo was too easy to assemble. In every other format, barring possibly Vintage in the future, it's a perfectly fine card.
I think, other than what's already been banned, they can fix Companion by reducing your hand size by one and it will still be relatively heavily played, although it won't be much less powerful. It would, however, calm the screeching masses.
jay... first, the $1k cards you mention are on the reserved list and are also at least a decade or two old. It'd be many, many decades before Companion becomes an actual price barrier, and if Magic's still alive at that point(every company's gotta die, MtG's just absurdly long lived) then props to Wizards.
Second, although I wasn't around during those periods(wasn't even alive during combo winter), I'm pretty sure Companion has an entirely different economic and metagame impact compared to everything you mentioned. You want exactly one in 90% of cases(Gyruda's the exception), their abilities are generic enough that they fit into a huge variety of strategies making it less likely that they force the metagame around one strategy, and the restrictions and power on most are such that, once the ones that actually are problematic are gone, the metas of all formats they reside in will be able to be plenty diverse.
Eventually, Companion will be no different than Lands, just like planeswalkers are now. You want to be competitive? You can now fit a planeswalker into any non-aggro strategy. I mean, literally, the decks that don't have walkers that fit perfectly now are just Burn and friends. Thanks WAR. In fact, I think the way they are built will result in a vast amount of increased diversity by virtue of the fact that they are good enough yet generic enough that you can run them in 4-5 different high power decks.
I think people are looking at Companion as if they are Urza or Hogaak or Oko or Uro when they're more like the Planeswalker card type mixed with Lands. Yes, they might define most formats(Vintage plays restricted Lutri, Modern with Lurrus, Legacy with something else, Pioneer with Yorion, and maybe the rest find homes in various decks in those formats), but that is something lands and removal and creature quality do. I mean, even just lands are necessary in every format.
You don't know how Companion will turn out, you can't. This is far different than anything else, and any of our comparisons will fall short. Dredge is more powerful -- but it is easier to hate on. The Eldrazi screwed up Modern for a while -- but after one or two bans they were brought down to mediocre levels. Combo Winter almost killed Magic -- back when it had a smaller playerbase, didn't have 26 years worth of casual and competitive players, didn't have people rejoining after they left because of Combo Winter or Affinity or the Splinter Twin ban, didn't have EDH or Cube(I think, the wiki page has 2008 as the earliest online reference but it could be a few years older), Arena, Pauper, hundreds of youtubers and twitch streamers, Hearthstone players flooding in from their dying game, and more.
You can't predict what will happen if Aliens land on Earth by looking at WWII, or watching Men in Black, or studying the History Channel at 3 AM. While any of them have possible answers, none have the full reality. Not to say your argument's invalid -- just to say that it can't be 100% true.
On that note, none of us can be right. All we can do is wait. I don't want to hurt any feelings, and I hope I haven't, but in this case(as in the London Mulligan case) it's not a matter of who's right. None of us can ever be proven correct, because the math is too complicated and time consuming. It would take generations to prove anything about two individual decks, let alone multiple formats with hundreds of decks and millions of possibilities.
May 20, 2020 9:31 p.m.
I think you underestimate the economic impact of the growing consumer base.. even in eternal formats. Or the economic impact of those "casuals" with disposable incomes. Maybe WoTC is aiming for the new guard with stuff like this?.. Although, honestly, with some of their current actions, I think they have been trying too hard to please the old-timer collector groups & whales (all the special edition, special artwork garbage they've been doing). If casuals & greenhorns had negligible market impact WoTC would have stopped commander starter products long ago, same with most the sub-optimal starter things they release. I am arguing off-topic here though, I also am not a fan of "companion" either, though primarily because the argument of decreasing "cognitive load" in a complex game does hold some water. Overall; however, I see a lot of change resistant sky-is-falling scenarios, it was the same thing with "eminence" & why play anything else when you have passive effects from the command zone? Yet, the "health of the format" continues to be fine. If I were you I'd be more concerned about the bubble bursting on this product's price & new-player base losing interest... thus this product taking the same path as tons of other collector's hobbies before it. Collector/cult-following disenfranchisement is a less-likely scenario than the bubble-bursting scenario; it showed a similar course with Pogs, Beanie Babies, etc... & just like Prof & many others have spoken about the bubble burst is a real threat.
May 20, 2020 10:27 p.m.
No feelings hurt Trius, at least not by you. WotC has definitely hurt my feelings some but it's much less about the specific cards released and more about a pattern of releases over the last year or so that appears to imply some level of deceit (or at the very best, inept ignorance) on the part of WotC in terms of their explicit announcements to the consumer base. It's not the first time WotC has left me feeling this way, it's likely it won't be the last, but it's also almost certain that I won't be competing in competitive tournament settings or otherwise supporting WotC with purchases of any sort for a good while until amends are made. WotC has managed to get their philosophy and company direction back on track after grave missteps in the past and I expect they will once again, but I'd rather they just stay on a healthy course than attempt to realize short term monetary gains out of greed while forsaking the promises and commitments they've made to their consumer base.
May 20, 2020 10:38 p.m.
Not really that far off topic considering the avenues this discussion has tread.
As for a lot of the new special artwork, Secret Lair, etc type products these aren't actually things that I think appeal to the old timer crowd. Most of my conversations about such products mostly revolves around how silly we tend to think they are while having zero desire to purchase them. Just as with most of the Commander products this is stuff that really is aimed at newer members of the player base more than anything. A way for the new blood to get something they feel is cool and unique, or a way to accumulate cards that otherwise wouldn't be reprinted or made available.
I'm definitely aware of the "bubble burst" possibility you reference and it's something our collective has watched carefully for most of the last decade. Interestingly enough I collected both Pogs and Beanie Babies in my adolescence and made a nice profit on both collections at just the right time in my late teens and early 20s back when eBay was a brand new thing. I also got out of Pokemon cards and Yu Gi Oh cards at a good time and made a decent return on those investments. Hell, I used to spam Diablo 2 item runs and sell that stuff on eBay as well, which made for a very pleasant summer's worth of activities paid for. This is definitely the kind of thing our collective has some experience with as we've all been involved with these types of investments over our lives and we are a bit on edge at the moment due to a multitude of circumstances, more the state of a world in crisis than anything else. With MTG I think the key factor is to gauge how the newer members of the player base respond to what's happening. The less satisfied they are the more likely things will go very badly as it is their purchases that tend to cover the gap between WotC operational overhead and profit margins while the older, more entrenched, collector/secondary/small business market tends to account for the large sum of revenue required for operational expenses. As always, we tend to rely on Dustin for most of our advice in this area as his vested interest as the owner of Strike Zone means his goals tend to align with ours. If he's starting to get anxious that's when I think we'll start to get truly nervous as well.
May 20, 2020 10:57 p.m.
On the note of "Wizards is making decisions that feel bad financially for everyone involved",
Yeah, I can see that. It's quite obvious that R&D can barely do basic arithmetic.
Wizards has 26 years of history, 20k cards, millions of players all with varying playstyles. There's no way they can please everyone, and at this point they can't even please half of them. In fact, making the correct decision would take so much money that in order to do it, we'd be spending upwards of $100-$1,000 USD per individual booster pack in order to fund it. They'd literally need to have the same size playerbase, have every single statistician and data scientist in the world on their payroll, pay hundreds of thousands of programmers to build simulation systems for game testing, and charge thousands of dollars for 3-card boosters in order to build the perfect game. It's a miracle the game's lived this long!
I attribute Magic's long life to its raw customizability. It's the same with Minecraft and tabletop RPGs in general(including but not limited to D&D). You can always join and find something to do that you like. You can always find a playgroup, a niche, or even a massive community to be a part of. It's simple enough that most people can get into it with some basic board game knowledge(or video game or RPG knowledge in the other examples) and yet complicated enough that you can dedicate your life to understanding it and still need generations to scratch the surface and that's without any new changes. Magic will live until another card game that does what Magic does better in every way. You can't kill a game that literally has an infinitely large niche. It's something that marketing loathes, but it's a real thing that exists in three examples as far as I know.
The Trilogy of Infinite Creation will rule until some better version comes along -- or they burn with society. I'm just glad two of them are affordable.... although Magic's not too bad if you know what you're doing.
May 20, 2020 11:32 p.m.
"You can always join and find something to do that you like."
I will say this for companions: I do like me some Stoneblade Yorion. As much as I dislike the mechanic, as much as I dislike the individual companions, as much as I dislike the long term ramifications, I do really really enjoy anything that can give me a reason to slap back together an archetype that I always found immensely enjoyable in terms of play patterns. Original Cawblade had very intricate game play with lots of bluffing and mental gymnastics, particularly in the mirror, and the games were long enough for both players to make lots of decisions. Now, I disliked the archetype's utter dominance of the meta for a whole year, but I did enjoy that the games did not feel like a coinflip or "winner of the die roll wins the match" in competitive settings. Skill expression with the archetype was a thing of true beauty. Yorion kinda lets Modern Stoneblade variants just throw it's sideboard into the main deck and add some extra cantrip effects while assembling a new sideboard and it's competitive enough to be reasonably enjoyable to play, for me at least, purely on the nostalgia factor.
So, as you state, despite the fact that I dislike 99% of the things about this situation, there is one thing that I have found that I actually do enjoy and I suppose this will simply have to be the thing I focus on.
May 20, 2020 11:48 p.m.
I think that companion is an interesting idea, but, perhaps, it could have been better executed; I personally believe that companions should have been printed in a set that was legal only in eternal formats, rather than standard and modern.
Also, I have a question about companions: if a player does not wish to cast a companion from outside of the game, can they include it as a normal card in their deck and ignore the restriction?
May 29, 2020 9:02 p.m.
DemonDragonJ - you can just use it as any other card in your starting deck (or as your commander since they're all legendary). This is reflected in the Gatherer rulings for each Companion:
The companion ability has no effect if the card is in your starting deck and creates no restriction on putting a card with a companion ability into your starting deck. For example, Zirda may be in your starting deck even if your other permanent cards don’t all have activated abilities.