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Pardee’s Pleased With It: Magic Is Great Right Now

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Magic has been pretty exciting lately. There have been a ton of Grand Prix featuring a bunch of different sweet formats, as well as a spoiler season for what looks like one of the most exciting sets in recent memory. There’s always something to complain about, sure, but a few recent factors in particular have gotten me more excited than ever to play Magic.

Brawl

I had a chance to play some Brawl at GP Seattle, and the format was a ton of fun. Even when I was just building with Standard staples pilfered from Matt Nass’s collection while he was asleep, the deck building was a fun puzzle, and there was a lot of depth when you really get a chance to dig in with some of the more obscure cards that don’t see a lot of play. It’s the perfect format for someone like me who has a pretty extensive Standard collection and doesn’t want to bother tracking down obscure cards like Bosium Strip that’s great in Commander but not many other formats. I won’t really have to go out of my way to end up with the cards for a complete Brawl deck and I still get the fun of having a new sandbox to brew in!

Andrew Baeckstrom and I built a The Locust God and an Ajani Unyielding deck and spent a lot of time battling them against each other between rounds at the GP—and the games were incredibly sweet. Getting to see a slightly wider range of the cards in Standard shine was particularly fun, and the first time I got to Spell Swindle a Ghalta, Primal Hunger I was  sold. As soon as I got home from the GP I brewed up an Oviya Pashiri deck and I can’t wait to battle with it!

I would recommend even the most competitive player to give Brawl a try. It’ll increase your knowledge of the Standard card pool, let you experience cards you might otherwise not have tried, and is just a ton of fun on top of that.

Legacy

I played a lot of Legacy in preparation for GP Seattle, and while I finished an uninspiring 10-5 in the GP, I really enjoyed reacquainting myself with the format. There’s an incredible depth of interesting decks that feels underexplored once you stray outside of Grixis Delver, and the games are diverse and have a great mix of powerful things going on. Matt Nass and I tested a bunch of really off-the-wall ideas on his stream leading up to the event, and while none of it really panned out, the exploration was so much fun.

I ended up playing Lands at the GP with the same 75 that Sam Black took to the Top 4, and it felt like we made some nice improvements over the “stock” version of the deck. It was nice to be able to take a deck that has been around awhile and still find meaningful ways to make it better, and it raises the question as to what undiscovered archetypes are still out there.

While the format may be pricey to play in paper, the main way that I plan to play going forward is on Magic Online where things are a lot more affordable. A lot of the decks are actually cheaper than Modern decks, so trying out new ideas is actually pretty easy and I plan to do a lot of work on Legacy before the team PT.

Dominaria

It’s no secret that things have been a little rough lately for Magic sets. Standard has seen a ton of bannings and, at least for me, Ixalan Limited was a total miss. Dominaria looks to improve that in a major way. Admittedly, when the mechanics were first spoiled it took me a while to stop calling mundane artifacts like Servo tokens historic and making jokes about Exploration being my favorite Saga enchantment. But after taking some time to look at the spoiler and digest what the set is about, it looks amazing.

Legends as the core conceit of a set makes for an interesting deck-building puzzle. It’s a type of card you don’t want to draw too many copies of, which should lead to some increased variety in deckbuilding.

But mostly what has me excited for Dominaria is the flavor. I grew up playing Magic during the Weatherlight Saga, and getting to see a lot of those old characters (or their progeny) reimagined for modern day Magic has been absolutely awesome. I really appreciate the way they’ve done this through mostly new cards that have more subtle callbacks to characters that actually had some story to them rather than what I’d call the “Time Spiral” approach where every card was a reference to some unremarkable card from the olden days (Stormcloud Djinn being a reference to the entirely unremarkable Electric Eel for example—who the hell was nostalgic for Electric Eel?). The Sagas are also amazing, with a fantastic combination of what I expect to be fun, variable game play and some of the coolest art I’ve seen on a Magic card in a long time.

The set also looks powerful for Standard and I expect to see a lot of the new cards show up at the upcoming PT. It’s also a relief to see some reasonable-looking answers to Hazoret, a card that has put some serious constraints on the format for a while now. I’m also excited to see some continued support for the Ixalan tribes in Dominaria. None of the tribal decks have really gotten there in terms of Constructed success, and I’m excited that there will be reasons to keep trying with cards like Savage Stomp and Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca.

Team GPs

The last thing that has me energized to play some Magic is the upcoming slate of team GPs. I know it gets brought up all the time, but team GPs are just the best kind of Magic. You get to hang out with your friends and (hopefully) do some winning together. I’ll be at all of the upcoming North American team events, and it would take a lot to convince me that it was worth it to miss one. I’m particularly excited for Columbus and DC, which are Dominaria Limited. I prefer the Team Limited experience to the Team Constructed one, because you are all playing the same format so it’s much easier to offer advice to your teammates during the match. I also love how complex and interesting the deck building in Team Limited is. There are always so many playables and different combinations you can make.

If you haven’t had a chance to experience a team event, I cannot recommend it enough. Even if a GP isn’t in your plans, just grabbing five other friends to make two teams of three is a fantastic way to do something different with your playgroup.

So there you have it, though this is certainly not an exhaustive list. Magic is fantastic right now, and there isn’t a format that I’m unhappy to play!

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