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 Post subject: Re: Unbanning Karakas
AgePosted: 2018-Jul-12 3:10 pm 
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The problem isn't that it's a lock, nor that it's an overpowered effect. The problem is that it's both of those while giving you virtually zero opportunity cost as a result. Unlike Karakas, Cradle and Coffers both have drawbacks/limitations. Cradle is useless unless you have a pretty reasonable creature density and is nerfed by mass removal, Coffers tends to be pretty weak outside of mono-colored decks (and combos with Urborg), and both of them tend to be dead cards during the early stages of the game. The only decks that can't afford to run Karakas are decks with ridiculously heavy color requirements, and even those deck's I'm not completely sold on. The only reason it isn't strictly better than a basic Plains is because Ruination and Wasteland exist, which IMO is a stupid reason.

Another thing that absolutely kills the idea of Karakas being legal is the change to the legend rule. Having to face one of it is stupid but probably bearable. Having to face against two, and your general might as well not exist if it's anything even remotely powerful.

And finally, "it's not that bad" is not in and of itself a reason to unban something. I personally think Panoptic Mirror and Upheaval are "not that bad", but that doesn't change the fact that I think the format is monumentally better without them than it would be with.

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 Post subject: Re: Unbanning Karakas
AgePosted: 2018-Jul-12 4:28 pm 

Joined: 2009-Feb-09 4:00 pm
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I think the issue here is one of interaction and protection. If your deck is both completely dependent on its general but also unable to protect that general from instant-speed removal or interact with nonbasic lands, you kind of deserve to lose. I don't think it's unreasonable for decks built to enable greedy Magical Christmasland scenarios to get punished by cheap interaction.

That aside, here are the reasons I don't think Karakas needs to be banned:

1) There are plenty of commanders now with command zone effects, immediate effects, or EtB triggers that dodge or reduce the efficacy of Karakas;

2) Karakas isn't worse than losing your commander to a bunch of Wraths / removal, particularly on 6+ CMC commanders;

3) It's a nonbasic land. There are plenty of cheap, colorless lands that destroy nonbasics, to say nothing of spells and creatures that will do so;

4) Only white decks can run it. The existence of powerful cards in one color doesn't invalidate playing other colors in this format;

5) If the justification for blatantly overpowered effects like broken fast mana is, "The other players can just gang up on the offending player," the same holds true for Karakas;

6) Karakas gives non-blue decks a way to recycle their own commanders, which opens deck design space;

7) Karakas provides a check on commanders with powerful on-board effects that is significantly less oppressive than tuck was for decks without multiple creature tutors;

8) The best use case for Karakas may not always be to bounce the same commander over and over again, which means the card is only a soft lock if its controller is actively gunning for you;

9) In the interest of keeping the ban list short and to the point, cards that will not actively damage the format ought to be removed.

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 Post subject: Re: Unbanning Karakas
AgePosted: 2018-Jul-12 6:22 pm 
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Aggro_zombies wrote:
Sure, Voltron generals don't like it, but 1) there are a ton of decent and widely-played ways to give your commander hexproof,
How many of those have split second?

Aggro_zombies wrote:
2) Voltron isn't a great deck type in general
So you think we should further penalize what you admit is not an overpowered deck type? One that is very popular even though it's generally weaker than other strategies?

Aggro_zombies wrote:
3) Karakas is significantly less punishing than simply killing someone's commander a bunch of times, particularly when the commander is CMC 6+.
How many ways of killing opponents' commanders repeatedly, every single turn, have a zero card cost, cannot be counterspelled, and are only 1 mana?

Aggro_zombies wrote:
How is it worse than playing against an Eminence commander, or a commander like Oloro, that just sits in the command zone all game and generates value?
How many eminence abilities effectively lock a player out of their commander for the rest of the game? A minor advantage on your side of the table is not the same as completely locking down an opponent's commander.

Aggro_zombies wrote:
There are plenty of colorless nonbasic hate cards people should be running to have outs to other powerful lands.
So your answer to "this card is bad for the format" is "run more land destruction"? Maybe we should just unban Primeval Titan and all the other creatures on the banlist, since you can always run more kill spells? Or unban Biorhythm since there's plenty of counterspells and creatures with flash?

Aggro_zombies wrote:
Furthermore, unless you're expecting everyone locally to run white just for Karakas, claims about saturation being reached seem hyperbolic to me (and if everyone is running white, run Gloom and laugh).
I'd say at least 1/3 of the decks I see run white. It's a very popular color.

Aggro_zombies wrote:
How is Karakas any different? If someone is being annoying with it, attack them.
Because, in a format where consistent access to your general is expected, and the format is even named for that mechanic, this is pretty much the poster child of "does not interact well with the format".

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 Post subject: Re: Unbanning Karakas
AgePosted: 2018-Jul-12 6:59 pm 
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I'm can't be bothered typing out a long reply (it's been an exhausting week, interacting-with-the-internet-wise) but I'll just say that I build all of my Commander decks around my Commander. They're not all Volton (I have 2/27 Voltron decks), but yes, I do need my Commander in play for the deck to work properly because the deck is built to use that Commander's abilities.

As Willbender kindly pointed out, Karakas is a way of
Willbender wrote:
killing opponents' commanders repeatedly, every single turn, have a zero card cost, cannot be counterspelled, and are only 1 mana

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 Post subject: Re: Unbanning Karakas
AgePosted: 2018-Jul-13 6:59 am 
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As long as it had format-specific errata such as: "Return target non-Commander legendary creature to its owner's hand" or something, it might be fine. The RC really dosn't like doing this though, so I'm fine with it being banned indefinitely.

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 Post subject: Are you all on Karak-as??? (genius pun)
AgePosted: 2018-Jul-17 12:52 am 

Joined: 2017-Jun-13 4:56 am
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cryogen wrote:
Viperion wrote:
Karakas is an instant-lose for any commander that doesn't natively have hexproof or shroud, and that ain't fun for anyone.

[Karakas] is only an instant lose for decks that rely on their general and there isn't a more threatening general in play (or one that the owner wishes to protect).

Anyway, I'm not pro-Karakas, because I don't think it has a net positive. I already have two uphill battles to fight. My comment was simply more of a disagreement that it would be my one card ban list. Maybe top five though.


When I think about commander decks one thing I measure is a "Highlander to Feature Card" scale. On one extreme it's like "my commander is a good card in my deck that I happen to have in the command zone" to "This is the card every other card in my deck synergizes with".

The way I see it, strategies that fall on the Feature Card edge tend to be way more unique/specialized in interesting ways than solid Highlander decks because the "best cards" and "auto-include staples" use up a lot of the deck slots making it waaaaaaaay stronger.

I don't think Karakas is TOO strong, but I do think it is specifically strong against weaker/more vulnerable/more fun-focused decks. For that reason it would definitely make my personal top five, though I'd probably have Leovold, Emissary of Trest as my one-card ban list.

@Viperion do you know what WOULD be in your top 5 need-to-keep-this-banned?

Aggro_zombies wrote:
I think people are reflexively against this card, but it strikes me as not being as bad as it seems.

What's auto-lose about it? Is it really stronger than a land like Cabal Coffers or Gaea's Cradle, which put one player so far ahead on the turn they land that they turn the game into Archenemy? Sure, Voltron generals don't like it, but 1) there are a ton of decent and widely-played ways to give your commander hexproof, 2) Voltron isn't a great deck type in general, 3) Karakas is significantly less punishing than simply killing someone's commander a bunch of times, particularly when the commander is CMC 6+.

How is it worse than playing against an Eminence commander, or a commander like Oloro, that just sits in the command zone all game and generates value? The partner commanders don't particularly care about it, since most of them are cheap and bouncing one won't affect the other.

I think this card is fine to unban.


This post does a great job of summarizing what bothers me about it. Strong vs vulnerable build around decks, strong vs voltron (which is a weak archetype), is bad against many strong/obnoxious commanders (Oloro/Narset) but notably good in both of their decks, at the almost zero cost of being an untapped white source that doesn't have the plains type.

And while instant speed free (or 1 mana, depending on how you count it) bouncing a commander every turn is sometimes worse than instant speed destroying them for free, bounce gets around indestructible and graveyard synergy and die-effect triggers (like Dictate of Erebos or Grave Pact).

Again, not TOO powerful, but powerful in an unfun way.

Edit: I see many people feel as I do : )

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 Post subject: Re: Unbanning Karakas
AgePosted: 2018-Jul-17 8:14 am 
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Viperion wrote:
More legendary creatures is an excellent argument to keep Karakas banned, not to unban it


QFT x 1 million

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 Post subject: Re: Unbanning Karakas
AgePosted: 2018-Jul-17 12:00 pm 

Joined: 2012-Mar-31 11:52 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Sheldon wrote:
Viperion wrote:
More legendary creatures is an excellent argument to keep Karakas banned, not to unban it


QFT x 1 million

Could you please expand on why you agree with this? I get it, but let's be honest, whether there are one or one thousand available legendary creatures in the format, only one will ever be format specific - the one sitting in the Command Zone. And while it royally sucks having yours bounced every turn or being afraid to cast it, I feel that "more legendary creatures" actually creates a very real downside to the card. For one, there are so many juicy targets that there isn't necessarily one right target (opportunity cost). And for two, the second you stick an ETB trigger on your general, the happier you'll be when you see Karakas on the field, because that's like built in protection or just an invitation to let you recast your general.

But I totally understand that a dirt cheap repeatable way to bounce generals isn't something that the majority of tables will find enjoyable, regardless of other factors or ways to deal with it or get around it. So my comments are more at the mindset of approaching the card on the ban list rather than actually arguing to have it legalized.


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 Post subject: Re: Unbanning Karakas
AgePosted: 2018-Jul-18 12:32 am 
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cryogen wrote:
I feel that "more legendary creatures" actually creates a very real downside to the card. For one, there are so many juicy targets that there isn't necessarily one right target (opportunity cost).


That's not a downside. Karakas getting more eligible targets makes it more powerful and relevant. That is a very real upside. It makes it more likely that when there's a creature I want to bounce, Karakas will be able to bounce it for me. Plus Karakas is repeatable, so you get one juicy target now and more juicy targets later.

Between Doomblade ("Destroy target nonblack creature") to a theoretical card that's exactly the same (1B instant) except it says "Destroy target creature", the second would be considered more powerful for having more eligible targets. Nobody would say the increased target availability is a downside. Same again if it said "destroy/exile target permanent"—that's why people love Vindicate or Utter End or Anguished Unmaking so much.

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 Post subject: Re: Unbanning Karakas
AgePosted: 2018-Jul-18 1:02 am 

Joined: 2012-Mar-31 11:52 am
Age: Elder Dragon
spacemonaut wrote:
cryogen wrote:
I feel that "more legendary creatures" actually creates a very real downside to the card. For one, there are so many juicy targets that there isn't necessarily one right target (opportunity cost).


That's not a downside. Karakas getting more eligible targets makes it more powerful and relevant. That is a very real upside. It makes it more likely that when there's a creature I want to bounce, Karakas will be able to bounce it for me. Plus Karakas is repeatable, so you get one juicy target now and more juicy targets later.

Between Doomblade ("Destroy target nonblack creature") to a theoretical card that's exactly the same (1B instant) except it says "Destroy target creature", the second would be considered more powerful for having more eligible targets. Nobody would say the increased target availability is a downside. Same again if it said "destroy/exile target permanent"—that's why people love Vindicate or Utter End or Anguished Unmaking so much.

In the sense that years ago before we started getting overwhelmed with strong generals it was not uncommon to have games where there may be only one general you had to keep in check (meaning you could sit on Karakas as defense or just bounce stuff just because). What I mean by "downside" is that when I bounce a general to keep that player from winning I probably have other equally viable threats to worry about. So it is (probably since we can't test my theory on large scale) more likely that you won't have situations where Karakas just keeps one player from playing their general all game.

Like I said, more options ad in your Doom Blade comparison isn't really applicable here because it is of the interaction with the Command Zone that makes this card over the top ban worthy.


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 Post subject: Re: Unbanning Karakas
AgePosted: 2018-Jul-18 1:09 am 
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cryogen wrote:
spacemonaut wrote:
cryogen wrote:
I feel that "more legendary creatures" actually creates a very real downside to the card. For one, there are so many juicy targets that there isn't necessarily one right target (opportunity cost).


That's not a downside. Karakas getting more eligible targets makes it more powerful and relevant. That is a very real upside. It makes it more likely that when there's a creature I want to bounce, Karakas will be able to bounce it for me. Plus Karakas is repeatable, so you get one juicy target now and more juicy targets later.

Between Doomblade ("Destroy target nonblack creature") to a theoretical card that's exactly the same (1B instant) except it says "Destroy target creature", the second would be considered more powerful for having more eligible targets. Nobody would say the increased target availability is a downside. Same again if it said "destroy/exile target permanent"—that's why people love Vindicate or Utter End or Anguished Unmaking so much.

In the sense that years ago before we started getting overwhelmed with strong generals it was not uncommon to have games where there may be only one general you had to keep in check (meaning you could sit on Karakas as defense or just bounce stuff just because). What I mean by "downside" is that when I bounce a general to keep that player from winning I probably have other equally viable threats to worry about. So it is (probably since we can't test my theory on large scale) more likely that you won't have situations where Karakas just keeps one player from playing their general all game.

Like I said, more options ad in your Doom Blade comparison isn't really applicable here because it is of the interaction with the Command Zone that makes this card over the top ban worthy.

What you're saying there is that more threats than just the General can be potentially contained by Karakas (at least temporarily), so on turns where I don't have to worry about bouncing a General I can bounce another threat. In yesteryear I didn't get a choice, I could only pick their general, but now I do get a choice. That's an upgrade—an increase in power and relevance—and in no way a downside.

There is an opportunity cost to bouncing one threat instead of another, but that's not making the card weaker.

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 Post subject: Re: Unbanning Karakas
AgePosted: 2018-Jul-18 2:08 am 

Joined: 2012-Mar-31 11:52 am
Age: Elder Dragon
I never suggested it made the card weaker. From day one I have ALWAYS had three targets to choose from (assuming a four player game and we ignore the positive aspect of the card in being able to protect my own general). Nothing about this has changed. What has changed is that every time a new set comes out we are given more targets to potentially choose from. So we are continually going from "whose game do I want to ruin by never letting them keep their general", to "What is the biggest threat this turn". The former is just a really shitty game to be involved in, while the latter is not as bad.

I'm also not trying to suggest in the least that Karakas shouldn't be an auto include in every white deck ever, and I feel like I must once again reiterate that I am not advocating an unban. I simply think that as time passes there is more to discuss about the card.


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 Post subject: Re: Unbanning Karakas
AgePosted: 2018-Jul-18 2:41 am 
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Oh, OK, now I get it: if I understand correctly, you're suggesting that whereas before it was a laser-focused commander-removing fun-destroyer it is now just a more generic removal piece. (Is that one right?)

I agree with that, although I feel that means it's now both at once since the latter doesn't diminish its capacity to be the former.

We see eye to eye at least on not advocating an unban.

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 Post subject: Re: Unbanning Karakas
AgePosted: 2018-Jul-18 3:39 am 

Joined: 2012-Mar-31 11:52 am
Age: Elder Dragon
spacemonaut wrote:
Oh, OK, now I get it: if I understand correctly, you're suggesting that whereas before it was a laser-focused commander-removing fun-destroyer it is now just a more generic removal piece. (Is that one right?)

I agree with that, although I feel that means it's now both at once since the latter doesn't diminish its capacity to be the former.

We see eye to eye at least on not advocating an unban.

Exactly. Which isn't to say it's not still horribly broken in terms of its efficiency and scope of answers, only that the number of good good uses for the card has gone up slightly, while the number of bad uses has remained constant.


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 Post subject: Re: Unbanning Karakas
AgePosted: 2018-Jul-19 10:21 am 

Joined: 2014-Jul-26 11:35 am
Age: Elder Dragon
To my mind, Karakas is free hate, and to my mind hate should cost you something significant.

One of the counter arguments proposed here has been "play a strip mine effect", which emphasizes my point above. In order to hate out powerful utility lands, a player must sacrifice a coloured mana source from their deck to do so. Karakas goes in white decks. Period, the end. Being a non-basic is such a tiny opportunity cost as to be negligible, and to suggest otherwise is folly. No-one would be sitting down with their W/X/X deck trying to decide if they should swap a basic plains for a Karakas.

Yes there are answers, yes a voltron deck can work around it, but much like gifts ungiven, there is no reason not to play karakas, it has such widespread application and in the very, very few times you find it not specifically useful for its second ability, it still just taps for white.

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