We’re back up and running! There’s still a lot to do here, but we should be in the clear as far as not missing content days goes. Just in case, though, the obligatory “Please excuse our appearance as we remodel to better serve you.” sign is in effect until further notice.
Okay…back to it. Enjoy today’s dissection of EDH post-PrimeTime, courtesy of Patrick.
So it’s been like a month since we broke up with Primeval Titan, and I’m feeling it. Usually when a card gets banned, it’s either a card that everyone already hated and nobody (in our playgroup, at least) was playing (Sundering Titan, Emrakul), or it was a card that saw heavy play in like one deck, so the only people who cared were the people playing that deck (hi, Metalworker!). In contrast, PrimeTime was played by pretty much everyone; I personally had to replace him in nine decks (which would have been ten if the Bad Flavor Text deck had gotten off the ground before September 20th.)
Let me start this off by being completely transparent: I’m glad they banned PrimeTime. While I do not wish to see the format take the 5-color approach and aggressively ban whatever the best card is every three months, PrimeTime was ready to go; he definitely took over games when he was played, and he was probably the best thing in play most of the time.
In fact, it’s that particular idea (best thing in play most of the time) that formed the genesis of this article. While PrimeTime wasn’t necessarily the best card in your deck, what I have learned over the past month is that he was nearly always the card that you planned around, whether you meant to or not.
(Side note: if you’ve ever read anything I’ve ever written, you are probably well acquainted with my predilection for making broad generalizations based on myself and the poor group of sad souls forced to play EDH with me. If anything I say here doesn’t apply to you, I’m sorry about that.)
Let me give you an example: consider Fierce Empath. Were you playing him? If so, did he EVER find you anything other than PrimeTime? How about Mwonvuli Beast Tracker? Sure – these cards can find other things, and sometimes they even did; Fierce Empath could find Woodfall Primus or Duplicant in a pinch, and Beast Tracker is probably just terrible anyways. However, if you played them on turn three, you ALWAYS found PrimeTime with them.
Let me give you another example: consider Cabal Coffers. Do you run this? Is it supportable? Sure, it generates 4 billion mana in your mono-Black thing, but why on earth were you ever playing it in a three color deck? Oh right…because of Urborg. Wait, why were your running Urborg? Oh, right…because you could fetch it with PrimeTime.
Here’s the point: PrimeTime was a card that influenced everything about the decks it was in, and those decks now have a huge hole where it used to be.
I find this fascinating.
Part of the reason I find this fascinating is because of how much it applies to me, when I have spent so much time trying to separate myself from the “staples” mentality of EDH. I’ll be the first to confess that Prime Time was my weakness, my blind spot to this whole mentality; I ran him in pretty much everything, simply because of how good he was. PrimeTime was the card that allowed you to build three color decks with terrible mana bases, because as long as you could get to two green you could dig out your other colors. More importantly, PrimeTime was the card that allowed you to hit eight mana with ease, ensuring that you could play all of the high cost rubbish in your hand.
This is what I see as the real collateral damage of the banning of PrimeTime; his absence probably inadvertently wrecked your mana curve, because you slotted in all those big things due to of the amount of ramp he gave you. Sure, you can still use Boundless Realms, but that only finds basics, and it’s not a creature. (Which means green decks have a much harder time digging it out.)
Case in point: I was playing my Savra deck the other night, and I drew Natural Order on turn four. I had kept a relatively shaky hand without double black mana; I had Bloodghast in hand, but no way to cast him. I ended up casting Savra and sacrificing her with Natural Order to find…something.
The card I absolutely wanted here was PrimeTime. PrimeTime here finds me a second black source and a sacrifice outlet, allowing me to cast anything in my hand next turn. Additionally, if he attacks I get Volrath’s Stronghold and something else, and I now have sacrifice, recursion, and enough mana to cast anything in my deck.
Instead, I dug through my deck for a while before finding something not nearly as good. I never managed to find a second black source until well after it mattered, and I lost to an army of animated artifacts.
I spent some time looking at my Savra deck afterwards, and I came to the conclusion that replacing PrimeTime effectively altered the entire deck. Without him, I need to either put in several pieces of smaller ramp (Rampant Growth, Farseek, etc) or I need to cut a bunch of the high cost or triple cost cards. (Massacre Wurm says hi!)
Again, I think this is a good thing. Building every green deck around finding a single card is boring, and it makes deck construction too homogenous and easy. Theoretically, the reason we play this format is because of the uniqueness and variety, and when you are always tutoring up the same cards you are trying to turn the format into something else (probably bad Legacy) that is neither random or unique.
Let me repeat again: I am just as guilty of this as anyone. However, I look forward to repurposing several of my decks to reflect this change, and hopefully it will allow my builds to become more interesting even as they likely become definitively worse.
It sounds good.