I woke up today, hoping desperately that the Commander Rules Committee was going to do something big and sweeping to the Banned List just to shake things up, because nothing gets people talking like a good B&R update, right?

Sadly, it was not to be.  Fortunately, Shadows Over Innistrad hits shelves this coming weekend, and many of you already hit up the prereleases this past one.  As a result, my ‘Grumpy Old Man’ sense is tingling after all.

Let’s do this.

THE FLAVOR

As it turns out, I’m the only person on the planet that doesn’t like the flavor of…well, either of the Innistrad blocks.  This is at least a little bit crazy, because some of my favorite cards have come from the first go around, and it follows that there should be some more popping up this time too.  The whole ‘gothic horror’ theme is pretty cool in theory as well; I should be eating this up, right?

Well, as it turns out, I’ve uncovered two direct correlations in my personal Magic wheelhouse:

  • The heavier a set goes into flavor, the less I like it.

This is in part because the cards tend to be far more inter-related and reliant on each other, which means that in my poor little tired-out brain, they don’t stand alone nearly as well as they would if they were part of a Core Set.  I’m too old to focus on multiple things at a time; I want it to be nice and quiet so that I can happily work my way through things at a snail’s pace in peace, thanks very much.

The other part is that I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in the backstory for this game.  I know there are books and blocks and Urzas and Karns and Phyrexians and planes of existence and so on and so forth.  Just don’t care.  I want more Legendary creatures so that I can build more decks – end of list.  I don’t give a rat’s ass who flew the Weatherlight into the Maelstrom and triggered The Mending that made Jace split into seventeen different ridiculously-expensive cards.  Whatever.

Anyway, part two:

  • The better a set is for Limited, the less I like it.

This is probably for the same reason as above, but wrapped in a different cocoon.  Mainly, I just wanted another reason to talk about how I hate limited play, so take it for what its worth.

(Tangential bitchfest – My fondest memories of my Magic roots come from unwrapping Revised starter decks.  Not boosters – starters.  Thanks for killing my childhood by nuking Core Set releases, Wizards.  Also incidentally and related, thanks for killing the only format I actually have a shot at enjoying when playing sealed.  Which leads to…)

PRERELEASES

Once upon a time, there were Regional Prereleases.  (Stop me if you’ve heard this before.  Actually, don’t bother, because I’ll just bring it up again in a week or two as usual anyway.)  You used to be able to completely piss off your family by leaving them for an entire Saturday, heading a few hours away to a big city, and spending $25 a pop to effectively open six packs of the new set, train-wreck a mediocre deck, and get beaten round one by either the 8-year old kid with four on-color bomb rares and all the good removal, or the guy that sat across the table and wouldn’t shut up about how he already knows the format inside and out just because LSV wrote some article, and hey that card is garbage and the color combination to go for is W/G because Sam Black tweeted it.

Hi, run-on sentence!

Anyway, the reason this didn’t suck (for those of you new to things) is that back then, the event coordinator would put thirty-two people into a ‘flight’ and let them play their own mini-event.  And then, he’d keep doing that all day as long as people were still throwing $25 a pop at him.  As a result, you could 0-2 drop, spend another $25, and roll the dice again.  By the end of the day, you’ve spent $100 for half-a-box, but you won’t notice because you opened a ton of product and had a fun experience and maybe you won some games when one of your pools didn’t suck.  You’ve got new cards a week ahead of everyone else!  Yay!

Also, drafts.  When you hate Limited and a set is new and exciting and the cards still have value, there’s nothing better than instead paying $15 and savagely rare-drafting your way to that same ‘0-2 drop and try again’ instead.  At least you have a say in how you’re planning on sucking out.

And when all else fails, at least you get a shot at food poisoning from a restaurant you wouldn’t typically go to after everyone you came with scrubs out for the day.  (At best, you get a poolside hotel room, drunken poker, and another full day of the same thing all over again on Sunday, but that’s another story.)

Now, prereleases are comprised of one ‘flight’ at the local shop.  Local stores are happy because they get the events and that helps them out.  The family is happy because they know that you’ll only be able to go 0-2 drop once, and can then come home and clean things.  These are good things, by and large.

Guess who isn’t happy in all of this?

Note that this has absolutely nothing specifically to do with Shadows Over Innistrad, other than it is a new set and it was featured last weekend at prereleases.  So there’s that.

Anyway, what’s next?  Oh…right:

THE “INVESTIGATE” MECHANIC

I actually like the idea that I can get card advantage for doing basically anything and everything at all, although some #mtgfinance dick is probably now going to buy out Null Rod just to be a jerk.

No, what’s going to suck is the fact that four or five players already create hopelessly confused and cluttered board state as it is, and now you’ll never be able to figure out a damn thing that’s happening because of all the extra clue tokens that will be soaking up the real estate.  Nothing drives me more nuts than chaos on the table.  Again, poor old brain, too much happening, yadda yadda.

Come to think of it, maybe *I’ll* buy out Null Rod.  My uncluttered head will be able to fall happily asleep on the bag of money I make when it spikes and I sell the copies off.

THE NEW AVACYN

Because nothing says “R/W Aggro” like…well, every R/W general ever.

FLIP CARDS

So as it turns out, I actively block out cards that are overly-complex.  I want to pay ‘X’ mana and spend ‘Y’ card to get ‘Z’ effect.  I don’t want to have to spend X mana, sacrifice three non-token creatures, make a ham sandwich, fix the lawnmower, and not play any spells for the next twelve turns in order to pull a card out of a sleeve, flip it over, put it back in, and have some other thing to use…and a tiny window to utilize it in before one of the other players plays three cards and does the chicken dance to flip it back over again.

While we’re here – as I mentioned to Dave at one point, screw any card that says, “…put a 2/2 zombie token onto the battlefield…” anywhere on it.  (I’m looking at you, From Under The Floorboards!)  Don’t we have enough of these as it is?

THE “STAPLE THIS TO SOMETHING ELSE TO MAKE A NEW THING” EFFECT

We had Demonic Tutor and Regrowth.

Then, we had Increasing Ambition and Creeping Renaissance.

Also, Eternal Witness and Sidisi, Undead Vizier.

Now, it’s Behold the Beyond and Seasons Past.

Please make it stop.  I’m sure there are other new design spaces to explore rather than to just take something that existed seven times over, add it to something else (or multiply it by some factor), make it mythic, have it cost seven or eight, and toss it into packs.

THE GITROG MONSTER

Causing EDH players everywhere to create massive draw engines, whilst completely forgetting to add in a way to, you know, actually win the game – Since 2016.

(Also, for having a high preorder price.  Because I want to create a massive draw engine right now, dammit.)

PEOPLE COMPLAINING ABOUT NEW SETS

Can’t you people get off of your message boards and Twitter feeds and blogs and just be happy for a change that you’re getting new cards to play with?

Jeez…

-Cass
@GDCCommander