Why Have There Been So Few Defensive Permanents, Recently?

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Posted on June 6, 2024, 9:04 p.m. by DemonDragonJ

Defensive cards have always been a part of the game, but I have noticed that recent defensive cards have been instants and sorceries, rather than permanents; of course, Teferi's Protection, Flawless Maneuver, and Flare of Fortitude are all excellent cards, but the fact that they are instants requires a player to spend additional resources to reuse them, which I dislike; when was the last time that there was a card such as Story Circle, Righteous Aura, or Martyr's Cause, which are all permanents, so players can easily reuse their abilities; recently, WotC did print Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Avacyn, Guardian Angel, Gisela, Blade of Goldnight, or any version of Sigarda, but they are the exception, rather than the norm, for defensive cards, so I very much would like to see a greater frequency of permanents that protect players and prevent damage.

What does everyone else say about this? Why have there been so few defensive permanents, recently, or am I simply complaining and seeing only what I wish to see?

legendofa says... #2

It's not just you. WotC has been emphasizing active game progression recently, and defensive permanents, especially damage prevention, tend to lead to game stagnation. Generally, people want to be doing useful things instead of not doing useful things, and permanents that prevent them from doing useful things gives the game a perception of being less fun.

They haven't completely gone away. Blessed Sanctuary, Reidane, God of the Worthy  Flip, and Nine Lives are reasonably recent, and stun counters are probably going to fill out this space in the future.

June 6, 2024 9:31 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #3

legendofa, those are all great cards, so I hope that WotC shall print more cards that are similar to them, and reprints of the three enchantments that I mentioned, above, would be very nice, as well.

June 6, 2024 9:40 p.m.

While it might be the case cards are getting more proactive, WoTC are still releasing some great defensive tools. Hylda of the Icy Crown is a very powerful commander for defensive decks. She made many of the released stun effects usable and gives a way to turn them into a win. Seen in conjunction with stun counters, that deck is only gonna get better.

June 6, 2024 11:14 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #5

seshiro_of_the_orochi, Hylda is an amazing creature, but she does not actually provide a way to tap creatures on her own, in the same way that Archangel of Thune synergizes with herself.

June 9, 2024 4:33 p.m.

That's obviously objectively correct. She's not an enabler, she's a payoff. But what she does by this is she basically unlocks a truckload of defensive effects that mostly couldn't be used at all without her helming the deck. The closest comparison for the strategy could be Rhoda, Geist Avenger and Timin, Youthful Geist. Timin taps down things and Rhoda benefits from it, but the pair is rather weak compared to Hylda. Timin is the enabler, but he needs to be expensive manawise to not be restrictive.

Let's imagine Hylda had an Opposition effect on herself. Her triggered ability had to be a lot weaker so she couldn't go "pseudo infinite" with herself, and then the deck would be very different. You'd propably play a go-wide strategy relying on Hylda to make room for big attacks. That's not a defensive play style.

This is quite a long comment already. The most important part is this:

What she does is she unlocks a truckload of defensive effects that mostly couldn't be used at all without her payoff ability. That way, while her ability is a payoff, her effect on the cards she plays is she enables them to be played. As such, she enables defensive play and thus definitely can be called a defensive card.

June 9, 2024 11:46 p.m.

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