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 Post subject: Please ban Cyclonic Rift, I am so sick of seeing this card
AgePosted: 2019-Aug-23 7:35 pm 
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Joined: 2012-Dec-25 1:37 am
Age: Elder Dragon
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In brief:
I hate this card. I am sick of seeing it. It is too powerful, too versatile, and too omnipresent in the format. Everyone and their mothers, wives, and children run this card in their Commander blue deck. It laughs at the "deck variance" talked about in the Commander philosophy document. Please get rid of it.

Longer, less emotional version of my speech:
Cyclonic Rift is a card that has been legal in the format since 2012. Ever since it was first previewed, players predicted it would become a staple in Commander. And they were right. According to EDHREC, it is the most played blue card in Commander, and the 5th most played card overall in decks where it is legal, behind Sol Ring, Swords to Plowshares, Cultivate and Izzet Signet. In fact, the card is so popular it has become a meme at this point: "oh look, a blue player with Cyclonic Rift mana open (seven or more mana)". Cyclonic Rift is also featured on the salt list: a list of cards, chosen through the players' voting, that create negative experiences in Commander. From amongst the most played cards in Commander (commonly referred to as "staples"), it is the only card in that list.

This seems a paradox. Why are there so many players playing a card they hate?

Because the card is way too good at what it does for its mana cost.

First of all, the card is outrageously versatile. It can either deal with a problematic permanent for just two mana, or get rid of your opponents' entire board for seven mana. At instant speed. Actually, it is the only mass bounce spell currently printed that can do it at instant speed without outside influence. It is often recurred from the graveyard to be cast again because, well, blue does it best. Cyclonic Rift does have one disadvantage: its overload cost is an alternative cost, which means Snapcaster Mage and other similar effects won't work out if you desire to mass bounce your opponents' boards.

Secondly, the card is very powerful. The only other mass bounce spell that I know of with a similar effect and mana cost is River's Rebuke. River's Rebuke is one mana cheaper, however, (1) it's a sorcery, which severely constrains when you can answer problematic boardstates, (2) only affects one opponent, which makes it less powerful in a multiplayer game (although that can actually be a bonus if one player is much farther ahead on resources than the rest of the table, opening the opportunity for other players to band together and take him down), and (3) it targets, which means it is more interactable (players can gain hexproof or switch targets to pass the ball on to someone else, for example). I think that, ever since Cyclonic Rift became legal in the format, I've seen River's Rebuke cast once or twice, not more than that. And I cannot guarantee that it wasn't just being used as a "second copy" of Cyclonic Rift. In fact, the power level difference of both spells is so vast that River's Rebuke is only used in 2% of all the blue decks according to EDHREC, while Cyclonic Rift is used in a brutal 48% of all blue decks. As for other mass bounce spells such as Kederekt Leviathan, Crush of Tentacles, Wash Out, or Devastation Tide, similarly to River's Rebuke, their presence in the format barely reaches Cyclonic Rift's feet.

Lastly, there are very few cards currently printed that can interact with an incoming Rift. There is always targeted discard and counterspells, of course, but those can deal with pretty much everything. Then, there are specific corner cases such as Aetherling or the newly printed Sudden Substitution. The best answers to Rift are probably permanents with powerful abilities that trigger when they enter the battlefield, such as Agent of Treachery, that you can use again when bounced back to your hand. But these kinds of permanents come with their own set of controversies because they promote repeatable gameplay in the form of recursion and flicker effects that can maximize their abilities. Deadeye Navigator is often asked to be banned for this reason.

If these reasons are not enough to convince you that this Cyclonic Rift is harming the health and variance of the format, then let's take the criteria from the new Commander's Philosophy Document and see if the card fits in.

Cause severe resource imbalances: YES.
Allow players to win out of nowhere: YES.
Prevent players from contributing to the game in a meaningful way: NO.
Cause other players to feel they must play certain cards, even though they are also problematic: YES. Although side note: I don't think "spell creatures" are problematic for the format. It's only when a deck starts getting packed with them that inevitably the deck's strategy will lead towards abusing and recurring such creatures, which inevitably leads to repetitive gameplay patterns.
Are very difficult for other players to interact with, especially if doing so requires dedicated, narrow responses when deck-building: YES.
Interact poorly with the multiplayer nature of the format or the specific rules of Commander: NO.
Lead to repetitive game play: YES.

That's five positives and two negatives. Now, I guess it's debatable if this is a "good" enough score for a card to be banned. For me, personally, it is.

I wanted to finish this topic with two important questions: when was the last time you were genuinely happy to see this card played across the table? When was the last time this card created memorable games? Long are the years I've found Cyclonic Rift to be an interesting card. Now, I've gotten to the point that the card is just so everywhere that it only draws sighs and other negative thoughts from me.

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 Post subject: Re: Please ban Cyclonic Rift, I am so sick of seeing this card
AgePosted: 2019-Aug-24 1:07 am 
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So, I’m actually in the reverse camp. I originally thought rift was broken, but I’m ok with it now. Here’s why.

1. There ARE, other worse instant bounce spells legal. sunder for example sucks way harder. On the fair side of the coin, evacuation.

2. I still get to keep my lands. If someone bounces the whole board for other players, they better be prepared to be public enemy #1. Since opponents keep their lands, you can recover pretty quickly. Yes you may have to discard some stuff at end of turn if you are the player whose turn it was cast on, but that’s not different from any old boardwipe, whoever casts it will be ahead.

3. This seems like a great place for the social contract to come into play. I only recently bought a cyclonic rift, and I am only currently using it in one deck and I have like 300 I rotate. Edhrec doesn’t filter for play style of playgroups and things like that. Most commander players using edhrec (imho) play in more competitive local store environments and are ok with these types of cards. If you aren’t, talk to your playgroup, let them know it’s ruining your fun. If you play in a store or other event, this is just the type of card you should expect to see and adjust your power level accordingly. I refuse to play in my flgs because I disagree with their interpretation of the philosophy, and that’s ok


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 Post subject: Re: Please ban Cyclonic Rift, I am so sick of seeing this card
AgePosted: 2019-Aug-24 1:13 am 
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Age: Elder Dragon
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I have removed Rift from all of my decks. It really is a groan-inducing card. I would be fine with it gone from the format completely, but I do want to challenge some of your analysis, just to be Devil's Advocate.
Maluko wrote:
Cause severe resource imbalances: YES.
Allow players to win out of nowhere: YES.
Prevent players from contributing to the game in a meaningful way: NO.
Cause other players to feel they must play certain cards, even though they are also problematic: YES. Although side note: I don't think "spell creatures" are problematic for the format. It's only when a deck starts getting packed with them that inevitably the deck's strategy will lead towards abusing and recurring such creatures, which inevitably leads to repetitive gameplay patterns.
Are very difficult for other players to interact with, especially if doing so requires dedicated, narrow responses when deck-building: YES.
Interact poorly with the multiplayer nature of the format or the specific rules of Commander: NO.
Lead to repetitive game play: YES.
  • Cause severe resource imbalances: YES, agree.
  • Allow players to win out of nowhere: KIND OF, disagree. The times when a player casts Cyclonic Rift and then wins immediately are not very uncommon, but they don't happen all the time either and they are certainly not "out of nowhere" - the Rift player must have already established enough board presence to win and just needed to take out their opponents' defenses. While no other card does this as efficiently or reliably as Rift, there are other cards which can temporarily shut off defenses and I wouldn't consider them ban-worthy, examples include In Garruk's Wake, Mob Rule, Cleansing Nova.
  • Prevent players from contributing to the game in a meaningful way: NO, agree.
  • Cause other players to feel they must play certain cards, even though they are also problematic: NO, disagree. What are the cards that are problematic that must be run because of Rift?
  • Are very difficult for other players to interact with, especially if doing so requires dedicated, narrow responses when deck-building: YES, ABSOLUTELY agree. This is the biggest one for me. There are almost NO ways to play around Rift if you are not in blue.
    There's the (very budget-straining) answer to almost anything - Teferi's Protection, and there's holding enough mana up to follow Rift's resolution with an instant-speed sweeper of your own which are often very costly and may not be the answer you need depending on what the Rift player's board looks like (Rout, Fated Retribution, Consume the Meek, cycle Decree of Pain, Rampage of the Clans, Fracturing Gust). There are also Reverberate effects which efficiently equalize the board.
    There's the very unlikely ability to float ALL THE MANA and recast everything by activating Emergence Zone/Winding Canyons and/or flashing in Shimmer Myr - pretty much only Kruphix, God of Horizons and Omnath, Locus of Mana can do this, although the underplayed Gemstone Array also helps imitate them somewhat.
    There's Ghostway/Eerie Interlude, but those don't help you survive the immediate turn if the Rift player can win, they just make it cheaper to rebuild, so they need to be paired with something like Silence if the Rift player is comboing off with spells or Fog effects if the Rift player is attacking for lethal (Angel's Grace kind of works at both, but doesn't stop Commander damage or poison or certain other persistent victory conditions).
    There are Burnout/Pyroblast effects which are narrow but satisfying.
    Finally there are the worst kind of answers: packing your deck so full of board wipes that nobody ever gets enough permanents out to make Cyclonic Rift a strong swing, and/or using permanents that sit in play and can be activated in response to Rift to make it an even wipe like Pernicious Deed, Perilous Vault, Oblivion Stone, Magus of the Disk, Nevinyrral's Disk, Plague Boiler, Magus of the Balance (kind of). These require you to leave some amount of mana open every turn, sometimes a LOT of mana, and can't take the Rift player by surprise and can also be disrupted with Krosan Grip or Stifle.
    When we add blue to the list of answers, there are a few strong answers that don't necessarily make you the hero of your table but at least punish the Rift player: Perplexing Chimera (also can't take the Rift player by surprise and is vulnerable to many types of removal), Sudden Substitution, Aethersnatch, Commandeer, and Narset's Reversal. There are also great spells that will make you the hero like Spell Queller and the situational but vastly underplayed Spell Snare (even while overloaded, Rift's CMC is still 2), as well as more generally useful cards like Time Stop, Counterflux, Dovin's Veto, Negate, or Unsubstantiate/Venser, Shaper Savant + Wheel effects.
  • Interact poorly with the multiplayer nature of the format or the specific rules of Commander: NO, agree.
  • Lead to repetitive game play: KIND OF, neither agree nor disagree. I'm not sure I understand this criterion for banning.

As stated in the revised philosophy document, the criteria for banning are not a catch-all or a rubric for objectively determining which cards are OK for the format and which aren't, but again I wouldn't miss Rift at all and I agree it leads more frequently to anticlimactic endings than to fun 'WOW' plays.


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 Post subject: Re: Please ban Cyclonic Rift, I am so sick of seeing this card
AgePosted: 2019-Aug-24 1:20 am 
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intreped wrote:

[*]Are very difficult for other players to interact with, especially if doing so requires dedicated, narrow responses when deck-building: YES, ABSOLUTELY agree.


Couldn’t this be said of any powerful mass remove spell?

I mean, most colors are terrible at dealing with instants and sorceries

I play a lot of stuff I find helping me against this type of thing just during deck building while I’m finding generic answers to non permanents


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 Post subject: Re: Please ban Cyclonic Rift, I am so sick of seeing this card
AgePosted: 2019-Aug-24 8:40 pm 
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Shoe wrote:
So, I’m actually in the reverse camp. I originally thought rift was broken, but I’m ok with it now. Here’s why.

1. There ARE, other worse instant bounce spells legal. sunder for example sucks way harder. On the fair side of the coin, evacuation.

2. I still get to keep my lands. If someone bounces the whole board for other players, they better be prepared to be public enemy #1. Since opponents keep their lands, you can recover pretty quickly. Yes you may have to discard some stuff at end of turn if you are the player whose turn it was cast on, but that’s not different from any old boardwipe, whoever casts it will be ahead.

Removing lands is a key difference between the spells you mentioned. It's true that Sunder is probably a card that doesn't belong in the format, but then again, are you really playing to have a good time if you're playing a kind-of-land-removal spell? You start entering into the camp of cards that are so obviously obnoxious to the game's fun that there's little reason to increase the ban list just for those cards.

And Evacuation only deals with creatures, including your own. You can hardly compare it to Cyclonic Rift.

intreped wrote:
  • Allow players to win out of nowhere: KIND OF, disagree. The times when a player casts Cyclonic Rift and then wins immediately are not very uncommon, but they don't happen all the time either and they are certainly not "out of nowhere" - the Rift player must have already established enough board presence to win and just needed to take out their opponents' defenses. While no other card does this as efficiently or reliably as Rift, there are other cards which can temporarily shut off defenses and I wouldn't consider them ban-worthy, examples include In Garruk's Wake, Mob Rule, Cleansing Nova.

Fair point, I'll concede here.

intreped wrote:
  • Cause other players to feel they must play certain cards, even though they are also problematic: NO, disagree. What are the cards that are problematic that must be run because of Rift?

Cards with enters-the-battlefield abilities. Which are fine in small amounts, but start leading to strategies that promote repetitive gameplay when used in large amounts. This is one of the reasons why Sylvan Primordial and Sundering Titan are banned.

Also, thank you for that list of narrow responses to Cyclonic Rift. That was insightful!

Shoe wrote:
Couldn’t this be said of any powerful mass remove spell?

I mean, most colors are terrible at dealing with instants and sorceries

I play a lot of stuff I find helping me against this type of thing just during deck building while I’m finding generic answers to non permanents

Let me put it this way: how many cards do you know that have indestructible?

Hell, there are even cards that can't be discarded (Obstinate Baloth), cards that can't be sacrificed (Sigarda, Host of Herons), and cards that can't be exiled (Squee, the Immortal). But Wizards has yet to print a card that says it can't be bounced back to your hand. Most colors have one way or another to at least mitigate the effects of other boardwipes. That has yet to happen with mass bounce spells, of which Cyclonic Rift is the worst offender.

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Archetype: Aggro

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 Post subject: Re: Please ban Cyclonic Rift, I am so sick of seeing this card
AgePosted: 2019-Aug-24 9:45 pm 
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Maluko wrote:
Hell, there are even cards that can't be discarded (Obstinate Baloth), cards that can't be sacrificed (Sigarda, Host of Herons), and cards that can't be exiled (Squee, the Immortal). But Wizards has yet to print a card that says it can't be bounced back to your hand. Most colors have one way or another to at least mitigate the effects of other boardwipes. That has yet to happen with mass bounce spells, of which Cyclonic Rift is the worst offender.

Cards getting bounced already has a built-in mitigation: you can cast it again. Cards that go to the graveyard are usually gone forever unless you're building a deck that interacts with that zone and would spend the resources to get those cards back. (Granted part of the power of mass bounce is you'll often wind up with a couple too many cards in your hand afterwards.)

I wouldn't personally count Squee as "can't be exiled", but he turns removal into a sort of bounce. There's still no "can't be exiled" effect like there is indestructible.

Note there also isn't an anti-tuck "can't get put into a library from the battlefield" effect.

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 Post subject: Re: Please ban Cyclonic Rift, I am so sick of seeing this card
AgePosted: 2019-Aug-24 11:31 pm 
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spacemonaut wrote:
-stuff-

Don't get hung up on his examples - Rift is genuinely harder to interact with/defend against than basically any other sweeper. Damage and destroy based sweepers are fairly easy to mitigate. Exile-based ones are tougher, but a lot of the time having a sac outlet negates their advantage. Also I can't think of one that's instant speed.

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 Post subject: Re: Please ban Cyclonic Rift, I am so sick of seeing this card
AgePosted: 2019-Aug-25 1:36 am 
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Sid the Chicken wrote:
spacemonaut wrote:
-stuff-

Don't get hung up on his examples - Rift is genuinely harder to interact with/defend against than basically any other sweeper. Damage and destroy based sweepers are fairly easy to mitigate. Exile-based ones are tougher, but a lot of the time having a sac outlet negates their advantage. Also I can't think of one that's instant speed.


...but banworthy? i dont really think so. im not even sure its harder to defend against. white can flicker, green has ramp, black usually doesnt mind discarding creatures to reanimate for value later, red can use pyroblast type effects (which are super good regardless of this card, i run them as anti blue in most red decks) and blue can cast its own. all of these things are stuff most decks do anyway. you'll be hard pressed to convince me anything that bounces and doesnt hit land is banworthy.

also, what does a sac outlet do against exile sweepers that it cant do against rift?


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 Post subject: Re: Please ban Cyclonic Rift, I am so sick of seeing this card
AgePosted: 2019-Aug-25 7:04 am 
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spacemonaut wrote:
Cards getting bounced already has a built-in mitigation: you can cast it again. Cards that go to the graveyard are usually gone forever unless you're building a deck that interacts with that zone and would spend the resources to get those cards back. (Granted part of the power of mass bounce is you'll often wind up with a couple too many cards in your hand afterwards.)

I wouldn't personally count Squee as "can't be exiled", but he turns removal into a sort of bounce. There's still no "can't be exiled" effect like there is indestructible.

Note there also isn't an anti-tuck "can't get put into a library from the battlefield" effect.

This is ultimately all true, you can cast all your stuff again… which can take you about 1-3 turns depending on your previous board state. If your opponent already had a developed board, that is a huge tempo loss for you and the other players, and gives your opponent a tremendous advantage. For just seven mana.

"Well, Plague Wind can also do that" you will probably say next. Except it can't: it only affects creatures, costs two mana more, and, very importantly, it's not an instant. This is where I'm trying to get at.

Shoe wrote:
...but banworthy? i dont really think so. im not even sure its harder to defend against. white can flicker, green has ramp, black usually doesnt mind discarding creatures to reanimate for value later, red can use pyroblast type effects (which are super good regardless of this card, i run them as anti blue in most red decks) and blue can cast its own. all of these things are stuff most decks do anyway. you'll be hard pressed to convince me anything that bounces and doesnt hit land is banworthy.

I rarely see white decks flicker their permanents and return them at end of turn; ramp is another problem altogether for the format, and better discussed in another topic; and discard spells and counterspells are generic answers to (almost) anything. We're entering the "dies to removal" argument at this point, so let's not get into that.

Besides, it's not you that I need to convince; it's the Rules Committee and the Commander Advisory Group.

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 Post subject: Re: Please ban Cyclonic Rift, I am so sick of seeing this card
AgePosted: 2019-Aug-25 7:12 am 

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I'm also in the ban Cyclonic Rift camp. It doesn't add anything to games I've seen it played in other than misery. Either the player who casts it wins on the spot, or they recur it as much as possible and no one can keep a board state for very long. And it's also extremely difficult to interact with, since it's an instant and not a sorcery like most other spot removal. It's like Panoptic Mirror or Paradox Engine. It looks like a fair card, until you start actually playing with it.


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 Post subject: Re: Please ban Cyclonic Rift, I am so sick of seeing this card
AgePosted: 2019-Aug-25 7:26 am 

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Rift doesn't seem to be required in my meta, not seen it for months. Not as though our meta isn't full of obnoxious cards and combos either, maybe Rift is just overrated and over-represented.


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 Post subject: Re: Please ban Cyclonic Rift, I am so sick of seeing this card
AgePosted: 2019-Aug-25 10:08 am 
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Shoe wrote:
...but banworthy? i dont really think so. im not even sure its harder to defend against. white can flicker, green has ramp, black usually doesnt mind discarding creatures to reanimate for value later, red can use pyroblast type effects (which are super good regardless of this card, i run them as anti blue in most red decks) and blue can cast its own. all of these things are stuff most decks do anyway. you'll be hard pressed to convince me anything that bounces and doesnt hit land is banworthy.

White has Teferi's Protection and... as far as I can tell, that's it for cards that would save your whole board from Rift. Green can probably just re-play everything (assuming it's not a token-based board), as can black, but barring a few corners cases (like having a flash source AND having lots of mana untapped), it's going to be at least a Time Walk. Red... how many REB spells are there? 2? 3? "Just run REB & Co." is not really a good game plan against what this card can do. Only blue has a decent chance of answering this card, because countermagic is a generic effect that can be included with enough density that you're reasonably likely to have one. So in terms of mitigating its effect on you, it's very difficult if you're not playing permission.

Shoe wrote:
what does a sac outlet do against exile sweepers that it cant do against rift?

Not much I suppose - I guess it just feels worse to sacrifice in response to rift, since you have the option of re-cast, whereas in the face of Merciless Eviction, you can save your things to recur them later.

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 Post subject: Re: Please ban Cyclonic Rift, I am so sick of seeing this card
AgePosted: 2019-Aug-25 12:30 pm 

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Maluko wrote:
Shoe wrote:
Couldn’t this be said of any powerful mass remove spell?

I mean, most colors are terrible at dealing with instants and sorceries

I play a lot of stuff I find helping me against this type of thing just during deck building while I’m finding generic answers to non permanents

Let me put it this way: how many cards do you know that have indestructible?

Hell, there are even cards that can't be discarded (Obstinate Baloth), cards that can't be sacrificed (Sigarda, Host of Herons), and cards that can't be exiled (Squee, the Immortal). But Wizards has yet to print a card that says it can't be bounced back to your hand. Most colors have one way or another to at least mitigate the effects of other boardwipes. That has yet to happen with mass bounce spells, of which Cyclonic Rift is the worst offender.

This is why you need cyclonic rift, everything needs an answer and non-white decks should have an out to darksteele forge + privileged position. The answer to rift is learn to play around it, and I dont mean not committing to the board.

Hit the control player early, and hit them often. If someone if just spinning their wheels, drawing cards, playing lands and passing, hit them. They are holding onto their removal, make them use it on your terms.

Basic magic theory doesn't fly out the window just because you're playing commander, aggro beats control, cyclonic rift is the epitome of a control card so the simple answer is you need to be the beat down.

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 Post subject: Re: Please ban Cyclonic Rift, I am so sick of seeing this card
AgePosted: 2019-Aug-25 2:54 pm 
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Shoe wrote:
also, what does a sac outlet do against exile sweepers that it cant do against rift?

What Sid said, although also a relevant point: name me an asymmetrical exile sweeper that hits all non-land permanents.

And while you're at it, name me a sac outlet that does the same. There's Bolas' Citadel, Claws of Gix, flashing in God-Eternal Bontu... maybe Eternal Tribute or Barrin, and then the quality starts to fall off fast.


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 Post subject: Re: Please ban Cyclonic Rift, I am so sick of seeing this card
AgePosted: 2019-Aug-25 3:04 pm 
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specter404 wrote:
This is why you need cyclonic rift, everything needs an answer and non-white decks should have an out to darksteele forge + privileged position.
Of which there are a few, just none as efficient and one-sided as Rift. Flood of Tears, Wash Out, Wave of Vitriol, Thieves' Auction, Perilous Vault, Backdraft Hellkite + Chaos Warp (hitting the Privileged Pos first, then flashback to take out the indestructible engine), Energy Flux (optionally with Mana Web), Hellkite Tyrant, Reduce to Dreams, and more. The implication that Rift is somehow a savior card preventing the format from being dominated by 2-card, 14-mana pillowfort is pretty misleading; if Rift has that effect at all (which is not obvious), it is just because it's more generally powerful than all the situational or symmetrical effects which can be used to combat SOME but not always ALL of the things Rift answers.
specter404 wrote:
The answer to rift is learn to play around it, and I dont mean not committing to the board.

Hit the control player early, and hit them often. If someone if just spinning their wheels, drawing cards, playing lands and passing, hit them. They are holding onto their removal, make them use it on your terms.

Basic magic theory doesn't fly out the window just because you're playing commander, aggro beats control, cyclonic rift is the epitome of a control card so the simple answer is you need to be the beat down.
This is a weird argument to me for two big reasons. First, it doesn't match my experience playing Commander. In my experience, "basic Magic theory" DOES need to be revised to be applicable to Commander - because of the 40 life and multiple opponents, aggro has a significantly harder time putting out pressure than in other formats. Additionally, I would say the ratio of control players at the average table in my experience is higher than 65% of the total players. So, if I'm the only aggro player at a table with three control players with blue, the 'answer' to Rift is to attack all three of them for upwards of 25 damage each before any of them get to seven mana? It sounds like your playgroups have had a lot more aggro players who can team up against control than mine, or you just haven't tried to think about the format from an aggro player's perspective.

The other thing weird about this argument is that it seems to be saying Cyclonic Rift doesn't necessarily always win games, so if Rift is a problem to me I need to play smarter. And I think in other formats this would be a logical (if heartless) point, but this format is known to be broken. What wins the most isn't necessarily the most problematic. If we are analyzing the format based only on winning, with the idea that every deck is built to maximize winrate, we are talking about cEDH, in which "basic Magic theory" is completely invalid and there is no 'aggro' archetype (the archetypes are: all-in combo, combo with some disruption against opponents' combos, and mostly disruption with a combo finisher). I have won several games where my opponent cast Cyclonic Rift, but I have also won at least a few where my opponent cast Primeval Titan. Being able to beat the player who cast [card x] doesn't make [card x] good for the format.


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