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User: Dr. Opossum
Time: 01.07., 08:34 o'clock
Board: Official Announcements
Subject: Watchlist changes July 1st, 2016

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User: Payron
Time: 30.06., 19:43 o'clock
Board: Reports
Subject: Re: TNM: Highlander im Comic Attack Erfurt

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User: Kenshin
Time: 30.06., 12:29 o'clock
Board: New Editions
Subject: Re: Eldritch Moon

Useravatar of ChristophO

User: ChristophO
Time: 30.06., 10:46 o'clock
Board: New Editions
Subject: Re: Eldritch Moon

Useravatar of Silberhase

User: Silberhase
Time: 29.06., 10:17 o'clock
Board: New Editions
Subject: Re: Eldritch Moon

Useravatar of GoblinPiledriver

User: GoblinPiledriver
Time: 28.06., 17:46 o'clock
Board: New Editions
Subject: Eldritch Moon

Useravatar of GoblinPiledriver

User: GoblinPiledriver
Time: 26.06., 23:28 o'clock
Board: [HLL] Online Highlander League & Ladder Tournament
Subject: Re: [HLL]Scoreboard - Season XXVII

Useravatar of Dr. Opossum

User: Dr. Opossum
Time: 26.06., 21:54 o'clock
Board: [HLL] Online Highlander League & Ladder Tournament
Subject: Re: [HLL]Announcements

Useravatar of Iulus

User: Iulus
Time: 26.06., 14:52 o'clock
Board: [HLL] Online Highlander League & Ladder Tournament
Subject: Re: [HLL]Scoreboard - Season XXVII

Useravatar of Dr. Opossum

User: Dr. Opossum
Time: 23.06., 14:28 o'clock
Board: Web project
Subject: Re: Our new website - creating a comprehensive change-/wishlist

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User: Iulus
Time: 23.06., 12:42 o'clock
Board: [HLL] Online Highlander League & Ladder Tournament
Subject: Re: [HLL]Meeting Point

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User: ChristophO
Time: 22.06., 07:54 o'clock
Board: Banned List & Rules
Subject: Re: upcoming Ban list votes ChristophO

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User: Bat
Time: 20.06., 23:27 o'clock
Board: [HLL] Online Highlander League & Ladder Tournament
Subject: Re: [HLL]Scoreboard - Season XXVII

Useravatar of Maqi

User: Maqi
Time: 19.06., 01:39 o'clock
Board: Announcements
Subject: Re: The One - Highlander Series Mannheim

Useravatar of Maqi

User: Maqi
Time: 19.06., 01:39 o'clock
Board: Announcements
Subject: Re: The One - Highlander Series Mannheim


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<empty>News-Übersicht

01.10.2011, 00:28 Uhr, von <empty>

<empty> Banned List Changes Season II - 2016

01.04.2016, 00:00 Uhr, von <empty>
Valid during April 1st, 2016 0:00 CET until Juli 14th, 2016 24:00 CET.
Changes to the present list, effective April 15th 2016

Banned:

* Natural Order
* Sensei's Divining Top

Unbanned:

* none

Ban watchlist:

* Fastbond
* Mystical Tutor
* Oath of Druids
* Mana Drain
* Demonic Tutor
* Dig Through Time
* Tolarian Academy
* Yawgmoth's Will
* Mishra's Workshop
* Tainted Pact

Unban watchlist:

* Stoneforge Mystic
* Gifts Ungiven
* Sensei's Divining Top
* Natural Order


Single cards explanations:

Ban:

Natural Order
Unfortunately, Natural Order did not have the positive effect on the format we hoped for. Since its unban, especially lists, which are very present anyway, profited from this card, which in turn lead to the always same game procedures, mainly focusing on Craterhoof Behemoth and Primeval Titan. Also the card's downsides (rather high cmc, the need of sacrificing a green creature, sorcery speed) aren't enough compared to the unmissable influence it has on the game. Therefore we decided to take the card out of the format, despite its short phase of legality.

Sensei's Divining Top
A powerful tool for many decks, which continually smooths draws to a degree like no other card can, while also being almost indestructible.
However, the problematic part of playing this card is the time issue, which it often creates when used repeatedly over a long game. By banning this card, we would like to come to less stressful tournaments and lower the amount of unfinished games, which in turn should create a happier environment for everyone.

Ban-Watchlist:

Fastbond
Fastbond has found a niche in Storm, artifact-based decks and some Oath builds, where its performance is quite powerful. We will have a closer look at the tournament results during the next months in order to exactly value its impact on the meta. If Fastbond continues to be the key for combo decks and pushes those decks above the top, we will put it back to the Banned list in October. However, until now their popularity and tournament performance were within reasonable limits.

Mystical Tutor
Mystical Tutor stays on the watchlist for the reasons already given. Besides the obvious mana efficiency (1-Drop + End of turn option and therefore no loss of mana in player's own turn) and timing (Instant), Mystical Tutor is able to find direct answers (in form of removal, discard, counter) or indirect answers (other tutors). In contrast to his 'siblings' Enlightened Tutor and Worldly Tutor, Mystical Tutor is much more powerful. Like many other tutors too, Mystical Tutor gains more and more options with each new set (e.g. Dig Through Time, Treasure Cruise). Furthermore it enables Miracles like no other card. The potential of this card is undeniable and therefore should be observed.

Oath of Druids
One of the most powerful cards in the format. There are some decks created around this card, but it also demands a very specialized deckbuild. It gives the opponent at least one turn to react to it, which is the main reason to keep this card in our format. Due to its interaction with powerful creatures which could be printed in every new edition and its low casting cost, it has to stay on the watchlist so we can be prepared for new situations.

Mana Drain
This card is uncontested the strongest representative of its kind. Even if it needs more elements to exploit its full potential, it is in the worst case still a Counterspell, i.e. a 2-drop, which cancels the opponent's spell and has no disadvantages.
However, in fact Mana Drain repeatedly and randomly leads to absurd situations, by not only throwing the opponent one turn behind, but by also giving his caster an almost insurmountable advantage through a potent follow-up (especially early in the game). Therefore Mana Drain is often felt as frustrating by many members of the community. Hence the Council has decided to take a closer look at this card.

Demonic Tutor
No other card polarizes as much as Demonic Tutor. Supporters describe it as format defining and as the best answer card available while detractors claim it as the potentially strongest card in the format because it increases the count of each yet so powerful card to two. Demonic Tutor is not only the Swiss army knife against uncomfortable board situations, but also helps to enable those. In fact our statistical analysis has shown that each deck, which plays black, also plays Demonic Tutor. Many decks splash the colour only for this card. Its presence is unusually high for a non-land card. Therefore we will discuss whether Demonic Tutor is a problem.

Dig Through Time
With Khans of Tarkir, WotC released several new and powerful Delve cards, which influence our format decisively. In other formats, DTT (and its sibling Treasure Cruise) are already banned. We therefore decided to give this card special attention.

Tolarian Academy
With the addition of Tolarian Academy some Combo decks like Eggs and Artifact Combo were able to arise. Even if the performance and appearance of those decks is still reasonable, we are well aware of the potential of this card. Artifact-based lists can generate significant board advantages very fast, from which it is difficult to catch up. To what extend Tolarian Academy really influences the format will be observed by us during the next months.

Yawgmoth's Will
Yawgmoth’s Will is a card with outstanding potential, that theoretically benefits not only but mostly Combo lists. Until now, especially TPS and Artifact Combo profit from this card and abuse its possibilities to its fullest. We would like to give more attention to Yawgmoth's Will and will observe its development.

Mishra's Workshop
A "one of a kind" card, which in the early turns gives artifact specialized decks a pretty overwhelming advantage. Mainly in the combination with cards like Trinisphere or potent mana rocks like Coalition Relic, it sometimes works like a 1st/2nd turn win condition and suppresses interaction. We decided to monitor this card very closely in order to keep the environment healthy for players.

Tainted Pact
Tainted Pact - like Demonic Tutor - has the potential to find every card you need and at the same time can be cast as an Instant. Yes, you exile everything until you found what you are looking for and you have to have a "true" Highlander deck - which is a reasonable downside to the card at first glance. But in nearly every case you are looking for a certain genre of cards to tutor for, instead of a specific single card, or you are just looking for the missing winning piece. This again keeps the downside of Tainted Pact modest and can even make it irrelevant altogether. Like Demonic Tutor and Mystical Tutor, this card will be observed more in the future.

Unban-Watchlist:

Stoneforge Mystic
Even if we, similar to Natural Order, have to be afraid that Stoneforge Mystic will strengthen present and popular decks in particular, the wish of the community for this card is a reason for us to think about it more concretely. Therefore, this card also gets a place on the watchlist for cards to be unbanned.

Gifts Ungiven
Gifts Ungiven has been banned exactly four years ago. Although the main-reasons (splashability, combo-potential, one of the best tutors in HL overall) haven't changed, we decided to rediscuss this card because metagame and gameplay has changed alot within the years. Furthermore, one main-characteristic of a banned card nowadays is its cheap casting cost. In fact we have only three cards left with cmc4 or higher: Natural Order, Birthing Pod (Phyrexian mana!) and Gifts Ungiven. It is time to have a closer look at this card again.

Sensei's Divining Top
Sensei’s Divining Top had, independent of the arguments for its ban, indeed positive influences. It enabled some combos and also gave library manipulation to non-blue decks. We like to observe in what kind of way the format profits from the banning of this card and possibly intensify the discussion again at a later point in time.

Natural Order
This card was one of the most powerful cards in the format. Unlike other powerful cards, it doesn't require many deckbuilding changes to most of the decks playing it. We will keep this card on the watchlist for at least one more season to give the community chance to respond to the ban in either positive or negative way.

<empty> Banned List Changes Season I - 2016

01.01.2016, 00:00 Uhr, von <empty>
Valid during January 1st, 2016 0:00 CET until April 14th, 2016 24:00 CET.
Changes to the present list, effective January 15th 2016

Banned:

* none

Unbanned:

* none

Ban watchlist:

* Fastbond
* Mystical Tutor
* Oath of Druids
* Natural Order
* Mana Drain
* Sensei's Divining Top
* Demonic Tutor
* Dig Through Time

Unban watchlist:

* none


Single cards explanations:

Fastbond
Fastbond is found as a niche in Storm-decks and some Oath-builds where its performance is quite powerful. We will have a closer look at the tournament results during the next three month to value its impact to the meta and its function. If Fastbond is the key for combo decks to push those decks above the top, we will put it back to banned list in April.

Mystical Tutor
Mystical Tutor stays on the watchlist for the reason already given. Besides the obvious mana efficiency (1-Drop + End of turn option and therefore no loss of mana in player's own turn) and timing (instant), Mystical Tutor is able to find direct answers (in form of removal, discard, counter) or indirect answers (other tutors), in contrast to his 'siblings' Enlightened and Worldly Tutor. Like many other tutors too, Mystical Tutor gains more and more options with each new set (e.g. Dig Through Time, Treasure Cruise, Kolaghan's Command). Furthermore it enables Miracle-spells quite cheaply. The potential of this card is undeniable and therefore should be observed.

Oath of Druids
Oath of Druids has been mostly introduced to the watch list because of its enormous potential, especially in decks like Eggs, TPS and many other Oath Control lists.
Particularly its performance in the last big tournaments was remarkable. This card earns special attention and therefore stays on the watch list.

Natural Order
Natural Order stays under close observation. Although Natural Order doesn't appear in many winning lists of larger events recently (e.g. MGM, Slovakian Cup) its impact is noticeable. We will analyze its performance and occurence mainly based on the reported results at mtgpulse.

Mana Drain
This card is uncontested the strongest representative of its kind. Even if this card needs more elements to exploit its full potential, it is in the worst case still a Counterspell, i.e. a 2-drop that prevent the opponents spell and has no disadvantages.
However in fact Mana Drain repeatedly leads to absurd situations, that not only threw the opponent one turn behind, but give his caster a clearly advantageous position. Therefore Mana Drain is often felt as frustrating by many members of the community. Hence the Council has decided to take a closer look on this card.

Sensei's Divining Top
Sensei's Diving Top is still a controversial matter which is discussed in many formats and forums.
https://www.reddit.com/r/magicTCG/comments/3mqt9n/duel_commander_banlist_update_senseis_divining/
https://www.reddit.com/r/TinyLeaders/comments/2vu60e/banning_senseis_divining_top/
initial reasons for the ban in modern: http://archive.wizards.com/Magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/ld/144
The reasons for its ban or unban are well-known. We decided to discuss this card with the community once again.

Demonic Tutor
No other card polarizes as much as Demonic Tutor. Supporters describe it as format defining and detractors as potentially strongest card in the format, because it increases the count of each yet so powerful card to two. In fact our statistical analysis have shown that each deck, which plays black, also plays Demonic Tutor. Many decks splash the color only for this card. Its presence is unusually high for a non-land card. Therefore we will discuss in the next months, whether Demonic Tutor is a problem.

Dig Through Time
With Khans of Tarkir, WotC released several Delve cards, which influence our format decisively. The "cost reduction" by the Delve ability let especially these cards appear problematic, which generate a substantial information advantage. The most information is gained by Dig Through Time. In other formats this card is already classified as alarming and even if we are also aware that the power level of DTT is much lower in Highlander than in a 60 card format, which allows every card 4 times, we have decided to give special attention to this card.


Other announcements:

Council
Whereas only Germany and Finland had larger communities in the early days of our format the Slovakian has become a quite important one in the last few years. So we have been looking for a representative in the council for quite a while now. After a closer look and the feedback from the Slovakian community we are pretty sure we've found the right candidate with Dalibor. He is a quite active member in the local community and has proven his dedication to our format already for a long time. He even travels hundreds of miles to visit the larger Highlander tournaments in Germany whenever he has the chance to and motivates other to do the same. Furthermore he has proven this insight in Highlander and other formats like Legacy already in many tournaments. We welcome Dalibor as new council member.

ChristophO - Christoph, Germany, Hamburg, * 1983
Dalibor - Dalibor, Slovakia, Senec, * 1979
Dr. Opossum - Stephanie, Germany, Berlin, * 1987
Maqi - Thomas, Germany, Mannheim, * 1982
Nastaboi - Juha, Finland, Espoo, * 1982
pyyhttu - Tuomas, Finland, Helsinki, * 1983
Tabris - Jonny, Germany, Berlin, * 1984
Vazdru - Gerry, Germany, Karlsruhe, * 1975

Reminder: Legality of World Champion- and IE-/CE-cards
If World Champion- or IE-/CE-cards, also known as gold-bordered cards, are allowed or disallowed for a given tournament, should be clearly communicated by the tournament organizer within the respective tournament announcement. If the tournament organizer doesn't explicitly allow these cards for a tournament, players should assume the event to be sanctioned and only integrate DCI-legal cards in their deck. In order to avoid misunderstandings, please approach your local T.O. beforehand and try to make sure that your community is well-informed on how this matter is usually handled.

<empty> Banned List Changes Season IV - 2015

01.10.2015, 20:00 Uhr, von <empty>
Valid during October 15th, 2015 0:00 CET until April 14th, 2016 24:00 CET.
Changes to the present list, effective October 15th 2015

Banned:

* none

Unbanned:

* Natural Order

Ban watchlist:

* Tolarian Academy
* Fastbond
* Oath of Druids
* Mystical Tutor
* Sensei's Divining Top
* Natural Order

Unban watchlist:

* Stoneforge Mystic
* Entomb


Other changes:

Mulligan:
Scry-1 Mulligan (described here: http://www.magicplayer.org/forum/index.php?topic=1115.0) will be part of the official HL Mulligan rules (http://highlandermagic.info/index.php?id=mulligan).

Gold-Bordered Cards:
Back in October 2014, Wizards announced changes to Friday Night Magic events, according to which any format could be sanctioned. This was also covered in our forums. Sanctioning an event would require the Magic cards being used to be from tournament legal editions; more specifically, the cards with square edges or with gold-bordered backside/front would not be permitted as they would be considered proxies, which are not in line with the requirements of sanctioned tournaments.

We want to make the Highlander format broadly available so that it can be sanctioned by tournament organizers if they so choose. Currently cards from these editions are permitted in Highlander:

International Edition
Collector's Edition
Championship decks

Beginning with the next banning season (October 15th, 2015), we put the decision whether to allow or disallow IE-/CE-/Championship-cards solely in the hands of the respective tournament organizers.

In case the cards are not getting allowed by the tournament organizer, the tournament may be sanctioned as a casual-rated event through the WER (Wizard's Event Reporter).

Why do we do this?

As a general rule, it is not permitted to sanction a rated tournament and at the same time allow proxy cards. (Magic: The Gathering tournaments sanctioned by the DCI allow the use of proxy cards only to replace cards damaged during play, e.g. water is spilled on a deck mid-tournament, causing some cards to be marked. That is the only exception.)
"Gold" cards are considered proxies and this creates a complicated barrier for Highlander tournaments to be arranged as part of bigger, official tournaments, like as a side event at PTs or GPs. In the long run, we want to promote Highlander on a larger scale and we will therefore need to deal with potential impediments which will prevent Highlander from being accepted in broader non-casual environments.

Also, we have been observing the trend of tournament organizers having themselves banned IE-/CE-/Championship-cards from their tournaments for varying reasons. We don't want to hamper the work of TO's, who through their dedication and effort promote Highlander as a competitive format. Instead, we want to empower TO's to being able to make the decisions which best suit their needs.

What this will mean?

We want to emphasize again, that we are not discouraging the use of IE-/CE-/Championship-cards at all. Ultimately, since tournament organizers are the ones who make Highlander happen, we want to let them be able to choose the approach they prefer.


Single cards explanations:

Natural Order
Natural Order was banned exactly two years ago (http://www.magicplayer.org/forum/index.php?topic=959.0). The ban was partly justified with a meta full of green-based Goodstuff, Naya and 4c Blood decks, which almost all included the "Natural Order+Primeval Titan"-package. The meta has changed in the last two years and so Natural Order appeared on the unban watch list from time to time (http://www.magicplayer.org/forum/index.php?topic=1045.0).
Based on the results reported to MTGPulse in the last year (since Khans of Takir has been released) the metagame shifted towards blue-based control and -midrange decks. In fact beside 4c Blood there are following top entries on MTGPulse since KTK-Release:

RDW 14
Azorius Control 14
Izzet Control 13
Jeskai Midrange 11

Actually there are not that many T1 decks, which are able to get any profit of the unban. Maybe 4c Blood could make use of it, but we guess it won't be an autoinclude like in older days. As the meta changed, so 4c Blood did. Nowadays the Blood decks usually have a lower mana curve. Most of these play spells only up to CC 4, adding (if at all) just a few CC5-drops (mostly Thundermaw Hellkite). To get any advantage of Natural Order they have to add a fitting valuable high mana cost creature (e.g. Primeval Titan, Thragtusk).

In contrast we believe the unban can push decktypes, which are actually underrepresented, like Pattern Rector (3 entries in the last year), Ramp (3 entries) and Elves (0 entries). Maybe some other hidden champions will appear, which can mix things up again a bit. Nevertheless we are aware of the power of Natural Order, so it is added to the ban watch list.

Tolarian Academy
Tolarian Academy always stays under close observation, as its potential as a key card for non-interactive combo is known.
The game has slowed down with the introduction of the free mulligan and it is not as easy as it was under spoils conditions to sculpt a perfect hand, but with the tutoring power present in the format, building a combo shell around Tolarian Academy is perfectly possible, and we want to see, what kind of new archetype this possibly brings forth. Should it be harmful for the metagame, we have to think again about Academy. The latest developments regarding the Eggs deck demand a reintroduction of Tolarian Academy to the ban watch list.

Fastbond
We are aware of Fastbond being able to enable advantageous plays in a short time. However at the moment the card is not notably present in the decks, nor does it overperform in the big tournaments or the weekly events. (HL Cup Maintal -> occurrence: 2, Top 8: 0/ MGM#3 -> occurrence: 7, Top 8: 2)
Since Fastbond was unbanned not so long ago and the next Edition contains two sets with land strategies (Landfall), Fastbond will stay under observation.

Oath of Druids
Like Tolarian Academy, Oath of Druids is mostly introduced to the watch list because of its enormous potential, especially in decks like Eggs, TPS and many other Oath Control lists.
Particularly its performance in the last big tournaments was remarkable. This card earns special attention and therefore stays on the watch list.

Mystical Tutor
We have decided to put Mystical Tutor on the watch list.
Besides the obvious mana efficiency (1-Drop + EoT option and therefore no loss of mana in my own turn) and timing (instant), Mystical Tutor is able to find direct answers (in form of removal, discard, counter) or indirect answers (other tutors), in contrast to his “siblings” Enlightened and Worldly Tutor. Like many other tutors too, Mystical Tutor gains more and more options with each new set (e.g. Dig Through Time, Treasure Cruise, Kolaghan’s Command). The potential of this card is unmistakably and therefore should be observed.

Sensei's Divining Top
SDT seems to split the community somehow: http://www.magicplayer.org/forum/index.php?topic=684.60. There is obviously no way to please everyone by banning or unbanning that card. SDT has been never banned in the long history of highlander, but not many cards have been discussed that intensively.
Sensei's has been banned 4 years ago in Modern. The reasons for its banning also fits in Highlander somehow. Following topics were discussed quite controvertible:
* time issue, especially problematic in tournaments or in hands of unskilled players
* (un)fun factor, SDT sometimes leads to quite annoying games
* skill rewarding, yes or no?
* powerlevel, acceptable or still a huge swing T1 into SDT?

Stoneforge Mystic
In contrast to Natural Order Stoneforge Mystic seems to be an autoinclude in most of T1 decktypes.
4c Blood will add it for Sword-Toolbox.
UW- / Jeskai- / Esper-Control will add it for Batterskull and sometimes Sword of the Meek.
The already top seeded archetypes would get a new powerful toy to play with, which makes things worse for those decks which are actually a bit behind and have no use for it.
So Stoneforge Mystic won't help to have a more diverse meta, but contributes to more similar games, which will often circle around Stoneforge Mystic and the way to handle the enemy Sword (SoFI vs Izzet, SoFF vs 4c Blood etc). That's why we decided not to unban SM yet, but leave it on the watch list as it could may be a good moment in the future to unban the Mystic, when the meta changed a bit again.

Entomb
Entomb is put on the watch list. We are aware of the power of this card and the possibility that Entomb could push Reanimator and various other combo decks. Nevertheless the format greatly changed within the past years. Is Entomb too strong in the actual meta? Would its influence be disproportionate? Or might it have a healthy impact on the format? These questions can only be answered, when we pay more attention on this card in the future.

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<empty>Banned List Changes Season IV - 2013

02.04.2013, 20:00 Uhr, von <empty>
Valid during October 15th, 2013 0:00 CET until April 14th, 2014 24:00 CET.
Changes to the present list, effective 10/15/2013:

Banned:

* Natural Order

Unbanned:

* Tolarian Academy

Watchlist:

* Oath of Druids
* Sensei's Divining Top
* Mana Drain
* Demonic Tutor
* Tolarian Academy
* Dark Depths
* Mishra's Workshop

* Free Mulligan

Unban-Watchlist:

* Mystical Tutor

Single card Explanations:

Natural Order

A Tinker for green creatures. While the format doesn't have moxes (and probably never will), we do have several first turn mana dudes, and the current design trend is that we continue seeing them. In fact, we have so many of them that the pressure to ban Natural Order has grown, especially since it continues to appear in top 8 lists in large numbers. The "Natural Order+Primeval Titan"-package more and more becomes an auto-include in some of the most popular archetypes, e. g. Goodstuff, Midrange Bant and even in some Naya-builds.

Goodstuff (24/33)
Naya (11/33)
Bant Midrange (18/26)
Almost 30% of all listed decks include Natural Order (~115/400).
(Source: mtgpulse.com)

Furthermore Natural Order assembles the very powerful combo "Dark Depths+Thespian's Stage" quite easily - a new threat that has already become a nuisance in some communities.

Generally, when Natural Order resolves you get an awesome board presence that your opponent is very unlikely to deal with completely or has to spend so many resources on in order to keep up with you, that your other cards will be able to run away with the game. On top of this, Natural Order almost always demands an immediate answer from your opponent, which makes it even harder to deal with. It thus creates harsh do-or-die scenarios that more often than not decide games in a very random and non-interactive manner.

In the end, the combination of its statistical dominance together with its distorting in-game behaviour led us to the decision to ban this card.

Tolarian Academy / Mishra's Workshop

Staxx and other artifact-based decks haven't appeared much on the latest toplists. Some of the most popular archetypes like Bant, Goodstuff, Naya and 5C-Aggro often have the appropriate toolbox to deal with the keycards of Staxx. At the recent GP there was just one out of hundred decks which employed an artifact-based strategy.

As a consequence we decided to give those decks a new toy to play with. We are nevertheless aware that now there are very many goodies available (Academy, Workshop, Mind over Matter, Trinisphere etc.) which made those decks quite consistent and dominant in the past.

Tolarian Academy stays in close observation, as its potential as a key card for non-interactive combo is known. The game is expected to slow down with the introduction of the new mulligan, but with the tutoring power present in the format, building a combo shell around Tolarian Academy is perfectly possible, and we want to see what kind of a new archetype this presents. Should it be harmful for the meta, we have to rethink Academy.

Oath of Druids

The reasons to observe Oath of Druids haven't changed much since we have introduced it on the watchlist. Oath of Druids has occasionally a powerful effect, which with traditional builds brings Emrakul or some other game winning beast into play, but this hasn't always warranted a win since the board position then can already be in such a way that the opponent is just one turn away from winning via attacking with creatures, or it leaves the opponent some other window to react properly. However, since the last GP we saw a new approach in the winning deck, that enabled a consistent combo kill which was able to end the game right there after one turn. Nevertheless we haven't seen many top-lists including Oath on mtgpulse.com so we decided not to ban Oath of Druids yet.

Sensei's Divining Top / Mana Drain

Both cards are more or less a community choice. The highlander council always tries to record the feedback of the community members and value that input highly in our internal discussions. Back in 2012 we made a small survey on a grand prix about former banned list. The results 2012:

Ban: Unban:
Birthing Pod 20 46,51% Life from the Loam 11 25,58%
Stoneforge Mystic 13 30,23% Yawgmoth's Will 9 20,93%
Sensei's Divining Top 7 16,28% Gifts Ungiven 8 18,60%
Mana Drain 6 13,95% Dread Return 8 18,60%
(Source: http://www.magicplayer.org/forum/index.php?topic=584.60)

We want to take a closer look at Mana Drain and Sensei's Divining Top and want to ignite a discussion about both cards with the community again. So please let us know about your opinion on these cards.

Demonic Tutor / Mystical Tutor

We are still evaluating if a change on those tutors would make sense and if the effects especially on the meta would be positive. Our last time announcements on those cards are still valid.

Dark Depths

Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage combine into a two card combo which threatens to win the game within short time. Both cards involved are lands, which makes the combo somewhat hard to disrupt. Also the created Marit Lage Avatar, thanks to his indestructibility, is not easily dispatched.

The whole combo can be found with many strong cards you'd already play - Primeval Titan, Intuition, Knight of the Reliquary - so it can be added to decks with little cost.

Other announcements:

Free Mulligan

The first time a player takes a mulligan, he or she draws a new hand of as many cards as he or she had before. Subsequent hands decrease by one card as normal (cf. Comprehensive Rules, 103.4c).

Beim ersten Mulligan zieht der Spieler eine Hand mit so vielen Karten wie er zuvor hatte. Die nachfolgenden Hände reduzieren sich dann wie üblich um eine Karte (vgl. Comprehensive Rules, 103.4c).

Reasons for introducing the free mulligan:

First of all, Highlander is a form of Magic - with all its strengths and its flaws. We neither want to invent a new game nor try to get rid of all the potential flaws the game has, but we want to stay as close to the basic rules of MtG as possible.

Often, the mulligan-system is recognized as the most annoying "flaw" of Magic because the randomness of opening hands can lead to frustrating games where one side of the table never has the chance to take part in the game. There were different approaches to correct this: The "0,1,6,7-mulligan rule" (where you had the chance to take a free mulligan each time you had a hand with 0,1,6 or 7 lands), the free mulligan, the overdraw (draw 9 cards, put 2 cards on bottom) and the so called spoils mulligan.

The main aim of all those approaches was to decrease the risk of losing the game before it even started by giving the players a tool that would allow them to shape their starting resources (available mana and spells in their starting hand) to some degree and thus give both players the chance to take part in a game.

At that time, the spoils mulligan seemed to be the best way for the Highlander Council to deal with this problem. So we decided to make a drastic change of the Magic basic rules by adding this mulligan rule to the Magic universe.
While we played with spoils we found out that the rule worked well but had to accept that there also were some downsides attached to it. You can follow the discussion on this topic right here: http://www.magicplayer.org/forum/index.php?topic=934.0.

One big development that is often regarded as problematic was that - over time and through the printing of new powerful spells that gradually rose in power level - curving out became more and more important. Additionally, the release of the new fetch land cycle allowed players to fix their mana better than ever before. The spoils mulligan was used (some say abused) as a tool to not only sculpt your hand in a way that would allow you to participate in the game but rather to refine your starting hand to such a degree that you would be able to curve out with a sequence of cheap and powerful spells that would eventually overpower your opponent.

One could argue - and indeed we do - that the spoils mulligan might not any longer be the optimal solution for the Highlander format. Overall card quality increased and "getting your game going" is usually quite achievable. Instead the spoils mulligan became a mighty weapon that allowed players to run 4 or even 5 colors with ease and therefore enabled a strategy of "just the best cards".

Although this strategy was legit within the recent rules frame we must admit that it wasn't originally intended when the spoils mulligan was introduced to the Highlander format.

Indeed the community was split by the question if the spoils mulligan is boon or bane of the Highlander format. Through discussion the question quickly became: Is the free mulligan rule superior to the current spoils mulligan rule?

With the above said in mind, the main argument for the free mulligan is consequently as follows: It allows players "to be in the game" without being able to sculpt their starting hand as perfectly as the spoils mulligan allowed.

With our two goals in mind

a) to stay as close as possible to the official Magic rules and
b) to reduce the risk that games are decided just by the mulligan

we come to the conclusion that the spoils mulligan isn't needed anymore and that it is not superior to the free mulligan which seems to solve the problems at hand better than the spoils mulligan.

We decided that there would be only one way to prove this and therefore introduced the free mulligan so we could analyze what will happen over a period of at least 6 month and then decide on fundamental tournament data and play experiences.

That’s why we put the free mulligan on the watchlist. We are fully aware that introducing this rules change is drastic and we want to make clear that nobody can say what will happen with 100% certainty.

When in the end it becomes clear that the free mulligan is superior or at least as good as the spoils mulligan regarding (1.) the metagame, (2.) the Highlander-games itself and (3.) the community opinon, we will stay with the free mulligan in the future. If not, there is no need to stick to bad rules and we can reverse the ruling and go back to the spoils mulligan.

Please help us to find out the answer by posting decklists, tournament results and don’t stay away of playing highlander or split from the highlander community. Share your opinion with the community. Your voice will be heard.

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