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
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.
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.