Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Prime Time Slot is Now Open

So by now, most of you are aware that the EDH rules committee has published the latest update to the Banned List. Today, I’m going to talk a little about those changes to the format, how I feel about them, and how they will impact my decks going forward.

First off, the easy one. Worldfire is banned. Good riddance, or unnecessary ban? That’s a very good point worthy of debate, but what’s not really all that debatable is that banned or not, Worldfire was NOT a good card for the format. Few will miss it, and many more will actively rejoice that they don’t even have to worry about the possibility of seeing Worldfire suddenly start popping up and ruining their group’s meta. I personally don’t see the need to ban this card, much like Sundering Titan, because virtually every player out there who actually gets EDH is likely to avoid such funwrecker cards. Simply put, I don’t see it get played. Ever. But at least now, I don’t have to live in fear that that could change. So I can agree that the ban was probably the right move for the good of the format.

Next up, Kokusho is unbanned (in the 99; still banned as a General). This was a great move, though not a surprising one. The Unban Kokusho movement existed way before the existence of Primeval Titan and other such bombs, but once WotC started pushing the power level of creatures up through the roof, Kokusho just started to look more and more… average. To be sure, he is still a potent card, and will be perfectly viable in the new EDH environment, but it’s unlikely he will be as format-warping as he once was. Really, the only card out there right now that makes me even slightly worried about Kokopuffs is Rite of Replication. RoR on Kokusho WILL end many a game over the next year, and it WILL get old to many folks. But RoR targeting virtually any six-mana-or-more creature is just as game-winning, so that alone isn’t a good reason to keep Kokusho out of the format. I’m definitely looking forward to getting to play my 3 or 4 copies laying around uselessly.

Finally, we get to the whopper. Primeval Titan. Banned. In EDH. What? I’m pretty pissed off about this. Not gonna lie. From my own personal experience, Prime Time was not the gameruining funwrecker some people liked to make him out to be. Sure he was powerful. Too powerful? Absolutely. There are a hundred cards currently legal in EDH that are flat out too powerful. The RC itself has said that being powerful isn’t a reason to ban a card. Nothing I know about Primeval Titan, from actual real-world experience, lines up with the published philosophy and methodology on banning, as put forth by the RC. The RC has put out an outline that basically says “These are the reasons we would ban a card. Only these reasons, and no other.” Yet NONE of the reasons on the list line up with what Prime Time does, in my experience. I definitely do not agree with this decision in the slightest, and have no logical reason to do so.


But, as much as I might feel Primeval’s banning was an error of judgement, it is what it is. I have to deal with it.

So, what exactly does that mean? Currently, I have 4 decks that have a copy of Prime Time:

Savra, Queen of the Golgari
Maelstrom Wanderer
Rith, the Awakener
Stonebrow, Krosan Hero

Of the four, Stonebrow is the one most crippled by the loss. This is mostly because it’s a very Timmy deck, full of big-mana fatties with Trample. Prime Time had Trample… ugh, this one is going to hurt. The fact is, the deck is both mana-hungry to a drastic extent, and janky as all hell. Prime Time was one of the very few cards in the deck that was both perfectly on-theme mechanically (having Trample), and was just objectively powerful enough to give the deck the punch it needed to compete with decks constrained by less janky themes. In short, the deck is already kinda bad, so losing Prime Time will be a HUGE hit to its already-low power level.  

Rith will probably care the least. Prime Time was in for two simple reasons: 1. The deck just needed more warm bodies, as it is very spell-heavy. I threw Primeval in to up the creature count, and 2. He finds Gaea’s Cradle. I’m pretty sure I can just replace Primeval with any spell that can find Cradle (Crop Rotation or Expedition Map?), and maybe try to find another slot for some kind of creature to keep the creature count up. Not a terrible loss here.

Savra is definitely going to feel this one, but unlike Stonebrow, her deck is actually fairly strong, so the average power level will not take such a huge hit. Mostly it’ll just make it harder to get Coffers/Urborg online, but that little two-land combo is played out enough I can probably afford to have it happen a little less often. I am running Scapeshift, though, so it’s still going to happen now and then. Mostly I’m just sad that this deck loses one of it’s best Mwonvuli Beast Tracker targets, making that very recent addition less compelling. It’s entirely possible Beast Tracker will get cut from the deck once Ravnica comes out, since his BFF is now banned. There are a couple of other minor tweaks that Prime’s departure will likely lead too.

Finally, Maelstrom Wanderer. On one hand, MW is the deck that needs Prime worst of all, as the deck is mana-hungry to such an extent that it makes even Stonebrow seem streamlined. On the other hand, the overall power level of the deck is simply so high that Prime Time won’t be missed at all from that angle. He’s really just there for ramp, so if there are any really good ramp spells out there that I’m not already playing (unlikely, but possible), it should be easy to replace him.  I still haven’t gotten to double-cascade into Avenger/PT yet, which I really only wanted to do once.

So in the end, of the four decks, Stonebrow is the only one where losing Primeval Titan almost makes me want to just scrap the deck all together. The rest should still function just fine without him. I’ll give Stoney a chance, though, since I JUST rebuilt the damn thing a few weeks ago (and went on to win a game with him for the first time ever!).

Replacing Prime Time

So what, exactly are the changes I’m planning to make, to compensate for the lack of one of the most powerful creatures in the format?

Stonebrow – It doesn’t have Trample (or P/T), but Boundless Realms seems like the best possible replacement. This is a two color deck, which means a higher number of Basics, so I don’t have to worry about whiffing on it half the time. As I said, the deck is pretty mana hungry, and while my last rebuild strove to streamline and lower the mana dependency, my average CMC for all the creatures in the deck is around 5.1, which is high, even for EDH. Replacing the best ramp spell in the game with one of the next-best ramp spells in the game seems like a no-brainer.

Savra – Between the banning of PT, the unbanning of Kokusho, and the imepending release of Return to Ravinca (in which the Golgari appear to be the most awesome guild, overall), this deck looks to be undergoing significant changes. For now, though, the obvious move is to just swap out PT for Kokusho. One six-bomb for another. I was actually needing a bit of (good) lifegain in the deck – so much so, in fact, that I actually added Grim Feast. I wanna give Feast a chance, but I’m pretty sure that Kokusho will easily be able to fill my lifegain quota by himself, freeing up Feast’s slot eventually. At some point, Boundless Realms might come in as well, as a more direct replacement for PT, it’s just that in this particular deck, having more creatures is more important than having more ramp.

Maelstrom Wanderer – Unfortunatly this deck is already running Boundless Realms. And, pretty much every good ramp spell out there. For now, I’m probably just going to roll with Gilded Lotus in the PT slot. There are cards in RtR that I have my eye on, but none really do what PT does. Lotus is probably the best possible direct replacement that I’m not already running.

Rith – As I said, this deck really won’t blink at PT’s absence, so long as I replace it with something that can find non-Basics. It’s down to Crop Rotation, Sylvan Scrying and Expedition Map. Map costs one more to use than Scrying for the same effect, but doesn’t require green. Pretty sure green is always going to be available, though, so that’s not an issue. Meanwhile Crop Rotation puts it directly into play for only one G, but requires sac-ing a land… Scrying is slower, but I don’t want to get screwed by having to sac a land to find Cradle, only to have Cradle get Acidic Slime-ed. So I guess I’m leaning toward Sylvan Scrying. I also really just need to throw in a couple more generic ramp spells like Kodama’s Reacharound and Skyshroud Claim.

Adopting Kokusho

So we’ve filled the void left by Prime Time. Now, let’s see where we can squeeze in the newly returned Kokusho.

Savra - Obviously, he’s taking over for PT in Savra, where he just makes all kinds of sense. Rather than being just a good stuff card, he actually synergizes well with the deck’s theme of sacrificing it’s own creatures for profit, plus he’s an amazing life-gain spell which I was already needing quite badly.

Vish Kal – Life gain is one of the main themes here, so he’s definitely going in somewhere, I just don’t know where yet. More importantly, his inclusion will require me to reevaluate the whole Sanguine Bond vs. Exquisite Blood debate. I’m currently running E. Blood, but with K-puff in mind, I think I’d rather have S. Bond in place. As for Kokusho, though, I think he’s going to replace Geth. Geth is amazingly powerful, but not particularly thematic or flavorful in this deck.

Wrexial – Kokusho doesn’t really fit what this deck is doing, so if he got in, it’d be as a mere “good stuff” addition. Then again, he can be a great rattlesnake card, scaring players away from both attacking into me, or Wrathing the board. Then again, scaring away Wrath effects is exactly what this deck does NOT want to do. I don’t think Koku is a great fit here, and will probably not find a slot here.

Ghave – Same as above – he just doesn’t have any synergy with the deck or it’s themes. Well, okay, my general is a sac outlet, but that’s not really enough, you know? No Kokusho for this deck! I’m surprised, actually. Two decks so far that could run Kokusho but just really don’t need or want him. Guess he’s not quite the format-warping villain after all, or else I’d be shoe-horning him in despite being off-theme.

Thraximundar – This deck is basically a dedicated “good stuff” deck, with no real theme or synergy other than “mana and bombs”. Kokusho will fit right in here, if I can find room. Plus, I feel that it is important to have at least one deck that contains both Rite of Replication and Kokusho (I’m a dick). The trouble is, Grixis is a shard that is simply loaded with generically powerful good stuff, which is why I went with this color scheme to begin with. Right now the only two creatures on the “unproven” list are Charmbreaker Devils and Nefarox. Luckily, both are six-drops, so replacing either of them with Kokusho will not worsen the deck’s top-heavy mana curve. Pretty much every other creature in the deck has already been deemed an all-star, so Neferox and Charmbreaker are the two most likely candidates.  (Finding room for Kokusho is one thing – once RtR drops it’s Izzet goodies on us, it’s going to get really hard to make cuts!).

Well, that’s it for now. Quite a big impact, this time around. Ban list updates usually don’t have quite this much impact on me. I must admit, even if some of the changes piss me off a bit, shaking things up is always likely to produce interesting results. Ultimately time will prove me right or wrong, but I’ll keep hoping that some day Prime Time will be allowed to play again.



  1. Wow, this is news to me. I use Prime Time in just about every deck that can legally have him in the list, he's great, but as you said I'm not sure if he was actually ban material.

    This is going to be a pain in the ass actually, now I have to go through all my decks and find a suitable replacement in each, and not all of them will be able to run Boundless Realms either so...

    To Prime Time... gone but not forgotten. =)

    On Kokusho, potentially broken as he is, I really could care less about him being unbanned. I might (ab)use him in a deck or two, probably the decks that can (ab)use him the most but he doesn't seem like as much of a staple as people make him out to be. Its good that he's still banned as a general though, that kind of recursion would push him over the top.

    Anyways, as you noticed by now I'm back on the blogging scene so I look forward to you dropping by and giving your input!


    1. Your absense was noted and lamented. Glad to see you're back.

  2. "Nothing I know about Primeval Titan, from actual real-world experience, lines up with the published philosophy and methodology on banning, as put forth by the RC." -Thaumaturge

    This is my understanding from the forums:
    "Primeval Titan was banned because he produces too much mana too quickly. Commander is a format about epic plays, but the turn 10 epic play happening on turn 3 is deflating. Limited acceleration is good, but we don't want the format to turn into 'who can go off earliest,' so we rein in large quantities of early mana."

    I just finished a game against an Omnath deck. With Omnath and Primetime as his only creatures, he fetched up Gaea's Cradle and Deserted Temple. He had out a Garruk Wildspeaker and Mana Reflection and through a series of tapping and untapping was able to add sixteen mana to his pool from the Gaea's Cradle with only two creatures.

    I ran Primetime in all my decks that played green. As much as it pains me to say it, I think banning PT was a good move for the health of the format.

    The question is, which cards are now the low-hanging fruit? Consecrated Sphinx? Dead Eye Navigator? Who does the Rules Committee have their sights set on now?

    1. In my experience Prime Time only "produces too much mana too quickly" in abusive decks like the Omnath one you described, or when used to get Coffers/Urborg or Cradle. Personally I think Cradle and Coffers are FAR more offensive and degenerate in the format, and while I wouldn't exactly advocate banning those, I would be much more inclined to offer my grudging suppor to the RC if they did so. Banning Prime Time will never have my respect or grudging agreement. Period.

      As to their comment: "Commander is a format about epic plays, but the turn 10 epic play happening on turn 3 is deflating." - never seen it happen (as a direct result of PT). I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but my experience is, PT only enables that kind of douchebaggery when in the hands of players who are prone to such things, and will perform random acts of douchebaggery even after PT is banned.

      The RC has stated infnite number of times that they don't want to ban things that can be used fairly just because a few people exploit the shit out of them. PT was not a model of fairness but he didn't ruin games, except in the hands of players who just simply don't give a fuck if they ruin games, and will simply move on to ruining games with some OTHER powerful card.

      Banning PT adds nothing of value to the format. Look at the forums, and you'll see that everyone relying on PT to get coffers/urborg are now discussing what the SECOND-BEST way to get Coffers/Urborg online reliably and quickly is. This PROVES that banning PT will do little to dissuade or prevent those kinds of players from making those kinds of plays. Nothing.

  3. Well on a positive note, what the RC decrees as banned is not and should not be considered sacrosanct.

    As far as I know, players and their playgroups are encouraged to make their own banlists to suit them as long as everyone in the group has a gentlemen's agreement on what is allowed then everything should be fine.

    Let official banlists be a thing for competitive formats and leave us kitchen-tablers out of it. Thaum has a point, banning one thing doesn't stop degenerate plays. People will move on to the next most broken card and abuse the shit out of it, if thats the kind of person they are then no banlist will ever stop them.

    Personally, I would love to be able to use Painter's Servant in a legitimate and non-degenerate way but if the RC is law to my fellow EDHers then I can't unless we break away from what the RC thinks.

    Just my 2 cents.