Rishadan Pawnshop #10 – Stop Trying to Make Fetch Happen
Though Zendikar has yet to be completely spoiled, players are already pushing and shoving to get in line to pre-order. Warren Instigator and Day of Judgment definitely have people excited, but the cards producing the most buzz are without a doubt the new cycle of enemy fetchlands.
There are a few things we know for sure. They are some of the most anticipated cards to be printed since Onslaught (and the original fetchlands). They are going to have an impact on formats across the board, from Vintage to Standard and everything in between. And they are definitely going to be worth a lot of money. However, today I'm not going to sit and talk about things we already know. I'm going to talk about reasons why I think that the enemy fetchlands were a bad idea.
First of all, the introduction of the enemy fetchlands will prevent growth in value of many cards and hurt the price of even more. Standard provides a difficult basis for comparison since a majority of the significant lands are already rotating out (the [card Flooded Grove]filters[/card], [card Vivid Creek]vivids[/card] and Reflecting Pool). However, one format that will see the effects of the introduction of these lands is Extended. Without fetchlands, decks would have to lean more towards two colors, or three maximum, to still be able to assemble consistent manabases. This means that players would be playing more four-ofs of the [card Stomping Ground]Ravnica block duals[/card]. In addition, to fill out the manabases, deck builders would have the potential to test [card Twilight Mire]Shadowmoor block filters[/card], [card Rootbound Crag]M10 duals[/card], and maybe even [card Arcane Sanctuary]Alara block tri-lands[/card] or old school [card Underground River]painlands[/card]. This increase in demand for other lands to compensate for the lack of mana-tutoring brought on by the loss of the Onslaught fetches would push the prices of these "substitutes" up.
However, the re-introduction of fetchlands into the format will significantly hinder the possibility of this price increase as M10 duals, tri-lands and painlands will probably never see Extended play. Instead of leaning towards four-ofs for consistency, players can get away with running two or three and just fetching the color they need when they want it. Filter lands, which saw some play last Extended season, will not be given the full opportunity to shine because fetches will still exist. The lands that were waiting to make their Extended debuts will never be able to, and will rotate out of the format before fetches ever leave. Their prices will sink with the rotation and will likely remain there. The mana advantage that the fetches provides is just too good to make you need to run anything else.
Sure, there are a few cards that will gain some value with the new lands entering the format. Knight of the Reliquary, for one, has the possibility of seeing Standard play. Also, cards with the new landfall ability will shine with the fetches in the format. I'm sure there are other cards that I'm just not thinking of off the top of my head that have the opportunity to gain value with the introduction of the fetches, but overall there are too many cards that stand to lose or be prevented from gaining value for me to think this is actually a good idea. It's not just the "other" rare lands either. With Faeries and other decks unable to easily splash R/G for Ancient Grudge, Affinity stood a legitimate chance of being a tier one deck again in Extended. With Affinity being good, [card Kataki, Wars Wage]Kataki[/card] would rise in value as well. The viability of decks that can easily splash Kataki (like maybe [card Doran, the Siege Tower]Doran[/card] or White Weenie/X) would open up opportunities for many other cards to gain value from the trickle down. As you can see, the re-introduction of fetches affects more than just the price of substitute manabase pieces.
I mentioned that the mana advantage from running fetches was just too good to make you need to run anything else. In Extended, fetches combined with Ravnica duals allowed for some really dumb splashes to exist. How would you feel facing a three-color aggro deck that actually runs all five colors and five-damage, two-mana [card Tribal Flames]burn spells[/card]? Or facing a "mono blue" aggro control deck that splashes a [card Ancient Grudge]red spell[/card] with a green flashback to shore up one bad matchup? Two color decks with a splash aren't that out of the ordinary, but four and five-colors "splashes" shouldn't come so easily. I remember the days of Mirrodin/Champions Standard when color-fixing was green and three-color decks were the extreme. Fetches and duals make manabases way too easy to build and the combination is almost a crutch. You think of what the most powerful cards you can add to your deck are before the question of, "Can my manabase support all this?" even crosses your mind. I was very much looking forward to an Extended season with cleaner decklists and simpler Magic, but alas, my hopes are dashed.
In the long run, manabases that put themselves together can't be good for the game. If I wanted a deck with free mana of any color I'd play World of Warcraft or Vs. System or some nonsense like that. But I don't want to play those games. I want to play a game where every aspect of how I build my deck matters. Not only what expensive money cards and what role players I choose to fill in, but color choices and specific land counts as well. By making manabases so generic, Wizards is dumbing down a part of the game that is makes it unique.
Lastly, I don't know if it's just me, but I am sort of getting the feeling that Wizards is running out of things to print. Time Spiral block was nice. We got to see a huge chunk of old reprints, favorites like [card Akroma, Angel of Fury]Akroma[/card] and [card Char]Psionic Blast[/card]. We also saw older cards in new colors like [card Wrath of God]Damnation[/card]. More recently, in Shards of Alara we had [card Disenchant]Naturalize[/card], [card Counterspell]Cancel[/card] and Oblivion Ring reprinted. In M10, a set that claimed to have a bunch of new cards, we got [card Elite Vanguard]Savannah Lions[/card], [card Runeclaw Bear]Grizzly Bears[/card], [card Essence Scatter]Remove Soul[/card] and a bunch of other cards reprinted, just with different names. Zendikar spoilers are claiming that Demolish, River Boa and Mind Sludge are all going to be reprinted as well. As if any of these cards are going to have a real impact on Constructed?
I was really hoping to see something different with Zendikar. The land theme had me very excited for a new cycle of dual lands. Would it be like Nimbus Maze? Maybe like River of Tears? Maybe something new that we haven't seen before. Nope. Instead it's the same old thing just in different colors. Again.
I know this sounds very rant-ish and not everyone would agree. Bottom line is, though I'm not going to quit playing Magic, I am a little disappointed that Wizards actually caved and printed the enemy fetchlands. Maybe it was their plan all along? Maybe they just couldn't say no to the consumer demands any longer? Or maybe it's just another gimmick to sell more product? Either way, I just wanted to provide an alternate point of view in this sea of "Omfg I love Zendikar so much I want to have its babies" articles that have been flying around and will continue to be around for the next few weeks. Zendikar will be an awesome set and will be very significant, both in terms of financial value and competitive play. However, not everything that glitters will help your trade binder become gold, help you become a better deckbuilder or is necessarily even anything new. Agree, disagree, or have something to add or ask, make sure you sound off in the comments section. Thanks for stopping by the shop this week.