To those comparing Companions to EDH: there's a big fat difference between the rise of EDH and this new nonsense. When EDH was invented as a community format, there were already dozens (hundreds?) of generals to choose from. It was a junk rare format, letting you pull out cards that you otherwise would not use, particularly old Legendary creatures, and put them to work.
Perhaps, if they printed 100 Companions, we could equate the two. But, they only printed ten of them and development will be slow on more. I don't think a format with so few commanders is fun to play and I bet most of you don't either. It's like if the college football teams all had to share ten mascots.
@thewhitedragon69 Three things to think about in response to that.
First, power creep in general is not a great thing for the game. It's a short-term boost in sales, sure, but it's long-term detrimental because you either have to fall back and print a Masques or Kamigawa and deal with disapointed players and disappointing sales or you keep on creeping and things get more and more unbalanced. They've tried to balance this in the past with power creeping different aspects to different sets at different rates, but that seems to have been thrown out the window recently. It's very legitimate for people to worry about what sustained power creep means for long term health of the game.
Second, perhaps by accident, WotC's recent power creep may have come at the exact perfect time to actually be the right call. With Covid shutting down paper magic hard, Arena is probably picking up steam. All the recent power-creep sets are on Arena, and having splashy, powerful cards on that platform is good for that game. I don't play Standard typically, and I like the meta on Arena right now in standard. It's powerful and flashy. Feels more like eternal, complete with combo decks, than it has in a long time. If you were going to choose a period of time to mortgage paper magic's future in exchange for a boost online, now seems like exactly the time to do it.
Third, overall, I think this power creep + ban trend is good for eternal because it means they're finally shaking off the chains restraining them from printing cards as powerful as the old hard-to-obtain cards. I've been a big advocate for helping people get into eternal by printing cards that compete with the old reserved list staples, and they're doing that. I don't think they've gone far enough into making the new cards MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE with Vintage staples yet, but they're certainly making sure that the Vintage metagame is chock full of new and relatively cheap cards at competitive levels. That's a good thing! But, of course, since Vintage is the Whos-Who list of Magic's Greatest Mistakes, when you print cards to compete at that level you are absolutely going to have to police the format against breaking.
I don't think the statement is too short, but I think a lot of Vintage players will be annoyed it didn't reference two things:
1. The Gravitas of the Moment.
It took Vintage about, what, 26 years to finally have to ban a card for power level reasons? It took awhile. Congratulations, WotC. you did it! Anyway, the fact that this is so unprecedented probably means players would have expected something in the banned and restricted announcement acknowledging this. It's kind of like if Grandma dies and you just a get a quick text messages saying "Oh also Nana died."
- When Will Cards Get Banned in the Future?
What exactly was the philosophy behind the Lurrus ban, and when will the rule be applied again? I feel like I know why Lurrus was banned because I observed the format with it, but I don't know exactly what the criteria will be for bannings in the future.
I say this because companions and their +1 to starting hand size essentially invalidate any non-companion strategy. Card advantage is the name of the game and always has been. If they had to shuffle a card back to insert the companion into their hand I wouldn't care at all, and would then be excited for such design space.
I know that @Smmenen would agree with your sentiments on card advantage, but that's not really always 100% true. Would you play a card that let you start with a hand of 10 cards but you were unable to play any card with a casting cost less than seven? I think everyone in this thread all agrees that the Companion mechanic in theory is fine, it's just that the deck-building restrictions need to be very severe to counterbalance the cards.
Even based on the printed cards, it's hyperbolic to say that "companions and their +1 to starting hand size... invalidate[s] any non-companion strategy." No one in Vintage is running Obosh or the Macrosage. It's not the mechanic itself, it's the cost. And, come to think of it, that's basically true of almost all of WotC's biggest mistakes
@Protoaddict mox ruby is free to proxy and costs $2 online. Similar for the rest of the power. Vintage in its current form is accessible for all but 1 or 2 tournaments a year.
Sanctioned, we mean. For kitchen table I completely agree that a sharpie, blank card, or even a nice printed playtest card is totally fine.
That said, the last time I could play weekly sanctioned Vintage was 2012, so....
Companion is also the space where they can force something like this. Imagine a creature that said "this card is your companion if your deck has only green cards and land in it" but it was an absurdly viable creature? G for a 3/3 hexproof, can't be countered, draw an extra card every turn nonsense. I literally could not exist in other formats but it would actually probably be perfect to add new archetypes to vintage.
Me too, 100%. The best thing about Companion is the design space they opened up. They popped the cherry on cards that restrict the way you build the rest of your deck. That's the best way to print cards that compete with the old staples or can replace reserve list cards without supplementing them. It's not very elegant, but it does the job.
That said, none of these Companions really is doing anything like that, really.
@chubbyrain1 Wow, I waited a day to check this thread and things went bonkers!
Your "Grandfather" theory is probably factually correct. That is, there are cards in Vintage and Legacy that would be banned or restricted if they were printed today, based only on the warping of the format around them. They don't get hit because of player feelings.
Is it the way things should be treated, though? That was more the thrust of my question. As far as I can see, there is no "Lurrus Deck" in Vintage or Legacy. It's like Force of Will or Brainstorm in that it becomes an extra tool available to many diverse and different decks. Should we be quick to fart all over a new card that reaches those levels? Maybe we should, but I feel like the logic has to be stronger than taking a "Grandfather clause" and turning it into "Get off my lawn you damn new kids"
@protoaddict Could be! I think the older the format, the larger the card pool, the lower the cost of running a Companion becomes. It's pretty clear the cost is very low in Vintage and Legacy. It's also pretty clear that the cost is very high in Standard. Pioneer and Modern...? Somewhere in the middle, I'd guess, but I suspect the reason WotC isn't looking at those format specifically is the data doesn't support a move yet.
You make an interesting point, though. If they banned Companion generally in Legacy and Vintage, but kept printing more, you totally could have Modern become the "Companion Format." That might actually be a net positive. It would distinguish Modern from Legacy and Pioneer is a very high-profile way. I kind of like that line of thought.
I'm putting my money down on Lurrus getting banned in Legacy and Vintage. Possibly Zirda, too. Remote possibility of Companion generally getting banned in eternal, but that last one is only true if they are planning to print more Companions and want to make sure they stay in the formats where the deck-building restriction is a real cost.
I don't think we've gotten to the bottom yet of whether people want Vintage to be a format where we have a few dozen Companions and every deck needs to have a Companion. We become kind of like EDH. It's different, for sure. Is it good? Bad?
I'm actually suspect about this since legacy has no issues banning a card like Lurrus, but for Modern and Pioneer not to be mentioned is strange since companion is very prominent in those formats as well.
Mmm, well, there's a logic to banning it in older formats. The idea is that Lurrus (and maybe Zirda too) have restrictions that basically are not restrictions in old formats. The "cost" of playing with an eighth card in your hand is supposed to be a disruptive restriction on your deck. In Standard, probably Pioneer too, these restrictions are probably very real. In Legacy and Vintage they're really not.
@Protoaddict I think you missed my point. If you print lots of Companions, then you will have lots of different possible deck building restrictions. The more possibilities there are, the greater the chance that you can find some companion that requires no or very little change in how you build your deck. Look at what we see today: Lurrus and Zidra in particular are practically free to run. They require very little change to existing good decks.
The upshot is that the more Companions you print, the lower the opportunity cost becomes to run some companion. It gets more and more like your choice is a 15 card sideboard or an 8 card hand, and the hand is going to win out every time.
@volrathxp This is exactly the tension, isn't it? Too much variance and the game is coin-flippy. Not enough variance and we're playing Chess. There is a sweet spot somewhere in the middle where skill does matter in the long run, but in the short term exciting and unexpected things can happen. Where is that balance?
This is far more fundamental than the introduction of planeswalkers, though. That new card type caused problems because all the old cards which were valued based on how they interacted with other card types now had to be totally re-evaluated. And Planeswalkers did not change a fundamental core rule of Magic, namely, the starting hand size and variance.
If we had enough competitive companions with enough diverse but competitive deck-building restrictions, maybe. This would be a very different game, though. All of Magic becomes Elder Dragon Tinyleaders Brawl or whatever. Is that fun? Maybe?
Let's be fair and think of the positives first. I'm assuming a world with dozens of competitive companions.
Potentially more format diversity. Assuming the top tier companions don't overlap, you could have less decks starting with the same core of a dozen or so cards.
Less variance. If you want Magic to play like chess, well, here's a pretty awesome way to cut out variance and ensure that the best player will win more often.
More deck identity. Again, assuming the companions are diverse enough, your deck now has a mascot. It's like in EDH where your deck is this particular Legend, which is a fun way to play.
Wizards has broken the mold for ways to avoid causing problems and avoid the Reserve List Policy while still printing cards allowing people to play in Vintage and Legacy. Specifically, you can now make cards mutually exclusive with existing Reserved cards as a mechanic. Let's say you have a Companion that allows your ETB lands to enter untapped but you cant play with OG duals. Stuff like that. Or even direct cards: New Mox Jet that isn't even a companion but can't be played in a deck with other copies of itself or the original Mox Jet.
There's some definite bad effects, too.
Until you get a critical mass of good companions, format diversity is going to sink. Everyone will be playing with the best companion and decks will limit the cards they use. (Hey Lurrus)
Variance is part of what keeps the game exciting. I know people don't like a coin flip, but the ability for a less-skilled player to occasionally win anyway is what keeps people interested and excited. Managing variance is part of what the skill of the game is about, too.
Unlike most other cards, there's no real punishment for choosing to run a companion. If one is compatible with your deck list, it seems to me that you are compelled to run it. This gets worse if you print more. The more they print, the higher the chances you can jam one not because it actually makes sense in your deck but because having access to a 5/5 for 5 without any cost is just a good idea. One sideboard slot versus starting with a free card that can't be thoughtseized and just sits there in case you need it? Hmmmm...
On balance, I think these guys were a good idea executed poorly. The Companion deck building limitation is a cool idea. I like that. I don't like the fact that they start in the Command Zone (whoops Outside the Game (whoops Sideboard))).
I have been pleasantly shocked by Thassa in general. It looks like this card finally pushed the power level of the Lab Maniac win condition just enough that now it is making silly combos that previously were too cute work well in multiple formats. It's making Inverter of Truth into a real thing in Pioneer, and apparently doing something similar in Vintage.
I'm wondering if Stifle and similar cards get a boost, since that's practically the only way to interact with this outside of countermagic.