Why is WotC Not Allowing Certain Effects to Be Reusable?

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Posted on Feb. 2, 2021, 12:44 p.m. by DemonDragonJ

In the early days of the game, cards that granted extra turns did not exile themselves, such as Time Walk , Time Warp , Temporal Manipulation , Beacon of Tomorrows , or Time Stretch , which meant that a player could reuse them with the proper combos, but recent cards that grant extra turns exile themselves, such as Temporal Trespass , Part the Waterveil , or, most recently, Alrund's Epiphany , which means that they cannot be reused. Additionally, WotC has not printed any permanents that grant additional turns in recent years, with the most recent examples being Time Sieve and Medomai the Ageless . Even further, the original Timetwister did not exile itself, but Time Reversal does, which, again, prevents it from being reusable. At least Echo of Eons can be reused, and even has flashback, if the player does not have a way to return it to their hand.

In some cases, I can understand why WotC is using the self-exiling clause, such as Vengeful Rebirth or Finale of Revelation , I can understand the usage of that clause, since those spells would be far too powerful without it, but, for the others, I do not understand.

Why does WotC continue to put the self-exiling clause on extra turn cards or cards that shuffle a player's graveyard into their library? Do they feel that such effects would be too powerful if they were reusable? And is there any chance that WotC shall eventually print a new permanent that grants extra turns, albeit with a high cost?

Im not the best person to give a response, cuz the long complicated answer is hard for me to put into words. Reading "Phil's Stax Primer" would give you a better idea at how you should approach evaluating card quality.

Ill do my best though!

Time Walk is an exellent example to start with. This card is an absurd upper limit to Turn Spells. Its also an amazing example of how the design space has evolved over time due to numerous contributing factors.

The powerlevel of cards and how its tied to the importance of different clauses, multiple specific pips, a single extra colorless mana, and their effect upon the cardpools of different formats they are legal in is a complicated calculus to attempt to engage in.

So how would you try to "un-break" a type of effect as powerful as an entire extra turn? Thats a lot of value from a single card slot in the deck, to begin with its an untap step and a draw step and an opportunity to continue playing solitaire advancing your gameplan while simultaneously negating your opponents plans quality (due to being a turn behind now). Adding colored pip restrictions can only be so effective when an effect is so absurd, so the next 'Walk effect we see is what, Capture of Jingzhou? An extra colored pip, and TWO extra colorless! They hadn't discovered the future proofing tactic of self exiling yet, but it was a 2.5x increase in mana cost for the exact same effect. Is five mana enough to be balanced for such a massive tempo swing (format dependant, but 5 cmc Walks see play in some cEDH decks)

They evidently thought they hit the sweet spot, and printed a few more turn effects at that CMC, again without having discovered the importance of future-proofing your cards. They explored intentionally recurring the turn spells with negative tempo swings (such as the 6 mana, sacrifice 3 islands buyback Time Walk), but those were deemed nigh unplayable. So they upped the mana they considered an extra turn to be worth to 6, and began fooling around with exile clauses a bit later with the Delve walk, and self recycling such as with Nexus of Fate.

Basically, I think the reason they do this is to avoid having to obstruct or otherwise hinder future card design. In almost every format, 5 mana time walks are playable. So its a known loaded gun that they handle carefully. How do you handle it in a way that lets you sleep at night as a member of R&D? Exiles itself, baby.

February 2, 2021 1:28 p.m.

Ever see Timestream Navigator ? Lot of fun.

Yes, extra turns are too powerful when reused. Ever play a game where you can't take turns? I have. No fun.

Speaking of which, the game that I played where my opponent took infinite extra turns was with a Timestream Navigator . See why they don't put that effect on permanents?

February 2, 2021 2:01 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #4

Omniscience_is_life, in the case of Timestream Navigator , that creature has strict requirements in order to use its ability, and then the player must use a tutor spell to retrieve it, to use its ability again, and blue is not the color that specializes in finding creatures from libraries.

What if there was a variant of Time Sieve that required sacrificing of creatures or payment of life? Would such a card be balanced?

February 2, 2021 2:07 p.m.

Blue CAN however create token copies of things, and that's how it goes infinite with the Navigator.

Such a card would not be balanced, unless it cost 8, 9, even 10 mana to cast--given the combo potential. The Sieve already allows for infinite turns, and, as fun as those can be... I think WotC are smart to avoid them

February 2, 2021 2:29 p.m.

Metachemist says... #6

Ever heard of a little card called Nexus of Fate and what it did to Standard?

Extra turn spells that are re-usable are too easily abused.

February 2, 2021 3:04 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #7

Metachemist, I have certainly heard of that card, but, since I never play standard, I am not familiar with the effect that that card had upon that format.

February 2, 2021 5:01 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #8

Well, along with cards like Growth Spiral , Narset, Parter of Veils , Wilderness Reclamation , Search for Azcanta  Flip, Tamiyo, Collector of Tales , the whole deck was made to find and cast Nexus of Fate as soon as possible, use a few fog effects to stay alive long enough, and then take all the turns, and find a way to win as your opponent watched you play Solitaire for a good 20 minutes or more. The card was banned from best of one arena play, because people got cheated out of literal hours of playtime every day.

Reusing turn spells is one of the most salt-inducing ways to win a game, because once it gets going, you're powerless to stop it and forced to sit and not play magic while your opponent plays all the magic. That's probably the reason Panoptic Mirror is banned in Commander.

Gonti's Aether Heart was also a recent permanent that could grant you an extra turn, but even that had the exile clause in it.

February 2, 2021 9:13 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #9

plakjekaas, are you saying that no amount of drawbacks can stop an extra turn card from being overpowered without the self-exiling clause?

February 2, 2021 10:06 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #10

Maybe that's not what I'm saying, but as the card pool expands, more and more tools for abusing extra turn spells will be printed. Mystic Sanctuary being a good example for a card that probably is not intended as a tool for infinite turns, but accidentally enables it really well. More and more cards like that will pop up, and Temporal Manipulation will be a better card with all of them.

If you want to take all the turns, you have the tools to do so already in eternal formats, and with my previous post about how that leads to unfun gameplay, I wouldn't be surprised if Wizards wouldn't print any more extra turn spells that don't exile themselves, just to be sure they are exploit proof.

February 2, 2021 10:35 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #11

plakjekaas, that makes sense.

February 3, 2021 6:43 a.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #12

I understand why extra turn cards are not usually repeatable, but why do cards such as Time Reversal , Genesis Ultimatum and Emergent Ultimatum exile themselves? Would those cards be too powerful if they could be used repeatedly?

February 8, 2021 3:13 p.m.

DemonDragonJ that's the exact reason. If a card exiles/tucks itself, it is for no other reason than that it would be too easy to abuse them if they didn't

February 8, 2021 4:24 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #14

Omniscience_is_life, out of all the ultimatums, I think that Cruel Ultimatum is the one that most deserves the self-exile clause, given how devastating it usually is.

February 8, 2021 6:54 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #15

Maybe, but Cruel Ultimatum was printed in 2008, even before the last core set reprint of Time Warp , clearly Wizards did not, at that time, learn the exile clause lesson yet.

Though I have to say, Cruel Ultimatum is only scary in 1v1 20 life formats. I've been hit by three of them in a row in commander ( Kess, Dissident Mage is fun), playing mono white, and I ended up winning that game.

February 9, 2021 2:22 a.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #16

plakjekaas, are you serious? That is very impressive, and you must had some insane recurrence to endure three instances of that spell.

How did your opponent cast the spell three times? I presume that the first was a normal casting, and the second was from Kess, but was the third from either Twincast or Reverberate , I presume?

February 9, 2021 12:30 p.m.

legendofa says... #17

For the Ultimatums, Time Reversal , and similar cards, I'm going to say that the reason they self-exile is Eternal Witness and Archaeomancer -type effects. Time Reversal , Emergent Ultimatum , and Genesis Ultimatum all have the effect of pulling new resources from the library, and the Ultimatums can put those resources directly into play. If you stock up on graveyard-to-hand effects, you can repeatedly cast one spell for the rest of the game and have a decent chance at winning. Although I'm not sure about Eerie Ultimatum .

Off-topic side note: I really think Eerie Ultimatum should have been called Ancient Ultimatum. Anyone else?

February 9, 2021 1:11 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #18

legendofa, that makes sense, but it is still very sad to know.

February 9, 2021 6:19 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #19

DemonDragonJ : Archaeomancer was the creature the first copy brought back. It didn't die afterwards, so it was first cruel, archaeomancer -> second cruel, Kess -> third cruel.

My hand was empty, but I had a Extraplanar Lens , a Land Tax , a Skybind and my commander Heliod, God of the Sun out, which wasn't a creature to sacrifice to cruel. The tokens Heliod makes are Enchantment Creatures, so I was able to stall out problematic permanents with Skybind long enough to gain some traction and rebuild, overwhelming my opponent with tokens in the end.

February 10, 2021 1:58 a.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #20

plakjekaas, that is very impressive, and certainly a strong argument that white is not as weak in EDH as some people believe it, to be, with the proper deck construction.

February 10, 2021 6:49 a.m.

RealLifeBear says... #21

The short answer really just is: powerful effects like extra turn’s, Yawgmoth's Will , and similar effects are already so powerful that abusing them any more then that makes them un-fun / broken. Shahrazad , is annoying on its own, but when copied 3+ times it’s more than van worthy. When Time Walk was printed 30+ years ago, an extra turn to play Rock Hydra wasn’t a huge problem, but now cards like Approach of the Second Sun / Isochron Scepter / (insert most modern mythic cards) make that just not feasible. If players can abuse and effect, they will Oko, Thief of Crowns , if they don’t shuffle/ exile themselves they will warp formats.

February 12, 2021 8:47 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #22

I now that this thread has been inactive, but I had another question: Walk the Aeons has buyback, so it can be reused, but its buyback cost is very strict, requiring the sacrifice of lands, rather than payment of life or mana or the sacrificing of creatures; was that deliberate, to prevent it from being too easy to reuse?

March 14, 2021 9:49 a.m.

Metachemist says... #23

Absolutely that was the intention. Although even now, a Commander deck with U/G in it could get around that pretty easily. Extra land drop cards and Crucible, flickering Archaeomancer/E. Wit especially with new Thassa or Conjurers Closet, etc. It wouldn't be hard to generate infinite turns with Walk the Aeons even without paying it's buyback.

March 15, 2021 1:49 p.m.

Metachemist says... #24

So, it's worth pointing out in the four days since I wrote the last comment I lost a Commander game due to a mono-blue player going off for infinite turns with Walk the Aeons

March 19, 2021 7:07 a.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #25

Metachemist, was that player using Crucible of Worlds to replay the lands that they were sacrificing?

March 19, 2021 10:44 p.m.

Metachemist says... #26

March 20, 2021 7:20 a.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #27

I have another questions: why is it that Regrowth and Recollect do not exile themselves, but Restock and Seeds of Renewal do? Is it because the latter two cards are newer? Is such an effect really that powerful?

April 9, 2021 10:50 p.m.

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