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Subject: zendikar's power level rss

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Jamie Vantries
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For anybody who has seen the Zendikar spoiler http://www.wizards.com/magic/tcg/article.aspx?x=mtg/tcg/zend...
Does anybody else think this set is way too overpowered?
I thought the Alara block was pretty balanced. But now with just the very next expansion set, the power level is through the roof. While I think it kinda started with M10, Zendikar takes it to a whole new level or ridiculousness. Personally this alone is enough to turn me off from Magic:tg for good, but I'd still love to hear what other people think (especially those that still play).
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Michael Nerman
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Why does the set being more powerful discourage you from playing? Is it because you'll have to buy cards to keep up, and it will cost you more money?
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Jamie Vantries
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nerman8r wrote:
Why does the set being more powerful discourage you from playing? Is it because you'll have to buy cards to keep up, and it will cost you more money?

Normally I'm happy to spend money on a quality product, but two points:
1- I don't like being forced (or bullied) into buying more to keep up (and no I don't play Standard, just casual, but I won't have a chance against other casual players if I don't buy the new stuff. Yeah this is an old complaint, but I think it's actually relevant when comparing all previous sets to M10 and Zendikar)
2- It makes a lot of my old cards completely obsolete. Now obviously there will always be a bit of power creep in a game like this over the years, but this is out of hand. (an example: For many many years Serra Angel was considered an excellent all around creature (perhaps one of the top 100 creatures) and then in M10, they come out with Baneslayer Angel which is the same casting cost but (not just a little, but a lot) singnificantly more powerful. Unless your deck is based around the Vigilance of the Serra Angels, nobody is going to opt to Serra Angels over Baneslayer Angels*.
I've got plenty more examples if you want.




*Yeah, I know Baneslayer Angel is M10 and not Zendikar, but the point is the same.
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Adam Ruprecht
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The thing is, Serra Angel hasn't seen play in years - when it was first in print, creatures were terrible compared to spells. Baneslayer may be a bit over the top (and I think making it Mythic was a mistake), but it's closer to an appropriate power level for a five-drop than Serra was. I've seen a number of things in Zendikar that look interesting, but nothing that screams "broken" to me yet - the only potential issue I see is that fetches *might* make Landfall a bit too good, but I can't imagine they didn't test that pretty heavily.
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Nick Short
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rupes wrote:
The thing is, Serra Angel hasn't seen play in years - when it was first in print, creatures were terrible compared to spells. Baneslayer may be a bit over the top (and I think making it Mythic was a mistake), but it's closer to an appropriate power level for a five-drop than Serra was.
This is pretty much what's happened. In the "golden years" of Magic, creatures were terrible. The best decks were those that could put the overpowered spells to the best use (Counterspell, Dark Ritual, Swords to Plowshares,...) because they so outclassed the creatures. About 6 years ago, they started making a conscious effort to equalize the power level of creatures with the spells, so they backed off the most powerful spells and amped up the creatures. So yes, the power level of creatures has risen since the starting days of Magic, but just to the point that they matched that of the other spells.

Then, a few years later, they decided to address the problem of excessive chaff cards. Instead of a dozen or so "playable" creatures in a given set, now most creatures are efficient enough to be worthwhile. Mostly, it is not that creatures keep getting more powerful set after set, but that there are many more that near that top tier line than there were in the past.

People talk of power creep all the time, but the truth is that in the formats that allow the oldest cards, it is those old cards that are still winning tournaments. Cards like Kird Ape, Maze of Ith, Exploration, Force of Will, Hypnotic Specter, Counterspell, Lightning Bolt, Swords to Plowshares, Phyrexian Dreadnought, Sinkhole, Goblin Lackey, Lord of Atlantis, Hymn to Tourach, Standstill, and Mishra's Factory are all regularly played as 4 ofs in high level tournament caliber decks (in fact, I just pulled them all from the Top 16 of a recent StarCity tournament), and make more appearances than any new cards. The power level is the same, its just the depth of options that have gotten vastly deeper.
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Pete Lane
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I think ZEN is a well needed boost in the right direction. Over the last several years buying a box or investing in the new sets just didn't "pay itself back" due to the low number of quality cards.

The good: we saw a more diverse Standard format... cards were cheaper for casual players... you didn't need the expensive cards to have a fun deck using the new set...

The bad: local game shops that depend on MTG to bring in people see less attendence to tournaments, drafts, prereleases, and singles sales.

I'm all for supporting the local shops and having a community of players I enjoy playing with every week. I might not play in tournaments anymore outside of prereleases, but I know that if I show up there will always be friendly folks looking to play EDH or other casual games.

Let's face it, WOTC likes throwing casual players a bone. They give us EXCELLENT cards at uncommon and common and you can EASILY throw together a fun deck using nothing but junk rares... Heck we even got tri-lands at uncommon! Had they done that at rare, we would have been shelling out hundreds for a playset or two!

If it costs me a little more to add cards to my EDH's... okay I'll suffer every once and a while since I know the next set might not have the cards I want and I'll spend a lot less. It's a ballence, and we're just seeing a boost for once rather than another dry season.
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Jeff Thompson
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So why should I, as a new player, have to pony up cash to buy all the older cards if I want to play older formats?

That argument doesn't fly. If you are a competitive Magic player it costs money. Period. Even if that is in a casual environment.

There are thousands of other games in the database here at BGG. If MTG is too expensive or not fun, try a different game.
 
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Pete Lane
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Tompy wrote:
So why should I, as a new player, have to pony up cash to buy all the older cards if I want to play older formats?

That argument doesn't fly. If you are a competitive Magic player it costs money. Period. Even if that is in a casual environment.

There are thousands of other games in the database here at BGG. If MTG is too expensive or not fun, try a different game.


Depends on your definition of casual I say. I know of casual play groups who have rules like "no rare over $5," "No rares at all," "everyone buy 10 boosters of the new set only and we make decks and trade in that small pool," etc.

Yes, playing competitvely will cost you money, no doubt. I've forked over hundreds to be competitve in sanctioned tournaments. but the beauty of formats like Elder Dragon Highlander is that you can have a crazy good deck with minimal investment.
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Jamie Vantries
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Tompy wrote:
So why should I, as a new player, have to pony up cash to buy all the older cards if I want to play older formats?

That argument doesn't fly. If you are a competitive Magic player it costs money. Period. Even if that is in a casual environment.

There are thousands of other games in the database here at BGG. If MTG is too expensive or not fun, try a different game.

I'm not sure if that was directed at me or not. If so, I'm not complaining about spending money on Magic, in fact, I enjoy buying Magic cards, but when I'm forced to because 80% of my cards (including a lot of good cards) are made obsolete at the drop of a hat, that pisses me off.
 
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Pete Lane
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Burnham wrote:

I enjoy buying Magic cards, but when I'm forced to because 80% of my cards (including a lot of good cards) are made obsolete at the drop of a hat, that pisses me off.


And yet, this is really only if you play Standard. Legacy is really the best format to play in your case because you never have to pay attention to rotations.
 
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Jamie Vantries
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bsushort wrote:
rupes wrote:
The thing is, Serra Angel hasn't seen play in years - when it was first in print, creatures were terrible compared to spells. Baneslayer may be a bit over the top (and I think making it Mythic was a mistake), but it's closer to an appropriate power level for a five-drop than Serra was.
This is pretty much what's happened. In the "golden years" of Magic, creatures were terrible. The best decks were those that could put the overpowered spells to the best use (Counterspell, Dark Ritual, Swords to Plowshares,...) because they so outclassed the creatures. About 6 years ago, they started making a conscious effort to equalize the power level of creatures with the spells, so they backed off the most powerful spells and amped up the creatures. So yes, the power level of creatures has risen since the starting days of Magic, but just to the point that they matched that of the other spells.

I don't understand that at all. Now obviously there were a lot of creatures that sucked back then, but there were also some good creatures too, just like non-creature spells, there's some good and some bad. The thing is, unless you were playing a burn deck or somesuch, creatures were the main way of dealing damage for most decks. Sure spells like Swords to Plowshares, Wheel of Fortune, and Balance are great cards, but none of them deal damage, you still used creatures to kill the opponents (usually).
 
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Andre Metelo
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Burnham wrote:
bsushort wrote:
rupes wrote:
The thing is, Serra Angel hasn't seen play in years - when it was first in print, creatures were terrible compared to spells. Baneslayer may be a bit over the top (and I think making it Mythic was a mistake), but it's closer to an appropriate power level for a five-drop than Serra was.
This is pretty much what's happened. In the "golden years" of Magic, creatures were terrible. The best decks were those that could put the overpowered spells to the best use (Counterspell, Dark Ritual, Swords to Plowshares,...) because they so outclassed the creatures. About 6 years ago, they started making a conscious effort to equalize the power level of creatures with the spells, so they backed off the most powerful spells and amped up the creatures. So yes, the power level of creatures has risen since the starting days of Magic, but just to the point that they matched that of the other spells.

I don't understand that at all. Now obviously there were a lot of creatures that sucked back then, but there were also some good creatures too, just like non-creature spells, there's some good and some bad. The thing is, unless you were playing a burn deck or somesuch, creatures were the main way of dealing damage for most decks. Sure spells like Swords to Plowshares, Wheel of Fortune, and Balance are great cards, but none of them deal damage, you still used creatures to kill the opponents (usually).


The main point is that on the old days, you would have no creatures and win through milling or a single source of damage(blackvise/rack/even cursed scroll - although on a full hand it was likely to take longer than milling), or have a single creature in the deck that would be played late in the game and would kill the opponent once your deck has a lock on the game (serra angel was popular, but I preferred Rainbow Efreet as it is virtually impossible to kill once you reach the late game).

Personally, I liked that style of magic better, but I can see why players want more creatures to make a more dynamic game.

edit to fix typo

 
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Jamie Vantries
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stagger lee wrote:
Burnham wrote:

I enjoy buying Magic cards, but when I'm forced to because 80% of my cards (including a lot of good cards) are made obsolete at the drop of a hat, that pisses me off.


And yet, this is really only if you play Standard. Legacy is really the best format to play in your case because you never have to pay attention to rotations.

Actually Legacy is what me and my friends play. I suppose we're not "forced" to get the new sets, but if we want to have a chance against anybody else, we have to keep getting the new stuff because the new stuff is more powerful and our old cards are near worthless in comparison.

edit: I'm not saying I CAN'T use the old cards, just that it's stupid to when there's new cards that are better in virtually every way.
 
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Gabriel Manasan
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Man, that's just not true. If you look at the current top Legacy decks, you can see that they come from all over the place. You have Survival, Threshold, Storm, Goblins, Affinity, Counter/Top, Dredge/Ichorid and so on; all of these are good. None of these decks will be obsoleted by Zendikar.

Now, if you mean that a given casual deck is bad compared to top tier decks, well that's always going to be true regardless of how Zendikar turns out. You have my sympathy sir, but it has always been the nature of the beast.

It is more likely to be apparent if you're comparing creatures, but it's not that the new creatures are too good, it's that the old creatures were mostly bad! But what you have to realize is that the baseline should be the old, powerful spells, since it's those cards that really define the format. When Lightning Bolt, Dark Ritual, and Force of Will become obsolete, that's when you should really watch out.
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Jamie Vantries
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Stormcow wrote:
Man, that's just not true. If you look at the current top Legacy decks, you can see that they come from all over the place. You have Survival, Threshold, Storm, Goblins, Affinity, Counter/Top, Dredge/Ichorid and so on; all of these are good. None of these decks will be obsoleted by Zendikar.

We're just casual players. Not to say we intentionally make weak decks, but it's not much fun to get beaten so badly by a super fast combo deck that you feel like you've been violated! Occasionally we will happen to come up with a super-kill near-auto-win deck, but after about a game or two with/against it, we get bored of it and take it apart.

Stormcow wrote:
It is more likely to be apparent if you're comparing creatures, but it's not that the new creatures are too good, it's that the old creatures were mostly bad! But what you have to realize is that the baseline should be the old, powerful spells, since it's those cards that really define the format. When Lightning Bolt, Dark Ritual, and Force of Will become obsolete, that's when you should really watch out.

I'm not complaining that Pearled Unicorn or Hill Giant suck (even when they didn't suck, they still sucked) but the cards that used to be top of the line are now made obsolete (Serra Angel, Ernham Djinn, Shivan Dragon, even Juzam Djinn which for a long time was generally considered the best beatdown creature in the game).
 
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Burnham wrote:
I'm not complaining that Pearled Unicorn or Hill Giant suck (even when they didn't suck, they still sucked) but the cards that used to be top of the line are now made obsolete (Serra Angel, Ernham Djinn, Shivan Dragon, even Juzam Djinn which for a long time was generally considered the best beatdown creature in the game).
But the truth is, that even when they were new, Shivan Dragon, Serra Angel, and Ernham Djinn were underpowered. True, they were the best creatures at the time, but at the time ALL creatures were so weak that they probably shouldn't have seen play. The non-creature spells that answered them were always cheaper, more powerful, and more useful than the creatures themselves. I am confident that if the exchange of information were as easy then as it is now (with the internet and MTGO), there would have been no creatures played in constructed Magic at that time at all. Control Magic, Wrath of God and Swords to Plowshares could stop any creature from that era, and usually do it for much less mana than the threat itself, frequently gaining card advantage along the way (Wrath killed multiple creatures, and Control Magic left you with the creature, not just getting rid of it).

The creatures today are made better because that is what makes them playable. They have to be strong enough to compete with the spells (even though those spells have stayed roughly the same in power level). Now, a four-mana creature is as powerful and useful as a four-mana spell. Which is how it should have been all along.

As for old decks not being able to compete, I completely disagree. If you were to take a traditional W/U control deck and pair it against modern decks, it would post a highly respectable winning percentage. Wrath of God, Counterspell, even Icy Manipulator are just as effective as they ever were (and in fact outclass most comparable spells around today). Their card advantage and denial strategy would still work, and Rainbow Efreet would be just as difficult to kill as it was in its day (and in this deck, difficult to kill was all you needed from a finisher). There are local players in my area who continue to build decks with cards from bygone eras of Magic, and have no issues being competitive. If anything, they get the most accusations of having "overpowered" decks from their old cards (and I don't mean Power 9, just efficient spells).
 
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Jamie Vantries
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Ya know, I've actually found this thread very enlightening and I think I'm going to stick with Magic (assuming I can convince my friends to too).
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Andre Metelo
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BSUshort got a point in there... My old U/W/G deck newest card is Retaurizing vapor. I finally had a lost for a modern deck after 7 years playing it casually about a month ago.. the culprit... a B/R deck with discard, direct damages and little guys that were 2 or 3 manas tops. Not unexpected due to the deck nature. I would say that is an old deck that still is very competitive. Also, not once he was able to touch my efreet when it hit the table - it is still a pain to kill
 
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Aleksi Väänänen
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Burnham wrote:

Does anybody else think this set is way too overpowered?


Which of the cards spoiled so far are overpowered in your opinion? So far only Lotus Cobra seems like a very powerful card, and not in terms of being overpowered, I just don't like it being mythic.
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Pete Lane
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I'd say power creep is through the roof. This set will be insane in limited for sure (can you imagine drafting that new uncommon angel in multiples? THANKS!)... and constructed will be turned on its head thanks to some nasty new treats... but it was well needed after some very dull sets.
 
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You know, when I first looked at the spoiler, I had the same impression. After playing with M10 in limited for a couple months, I guess I'd just gotten used to those kinds of cards (where classic big creatures like Shivan Dragon, Serra, and Nightmare were the big threats, and Mind Control, bolt, doom blade, etc, were the best removal).

I've heard the argument before about creature/spell balance, but it just doesn't seem to hold water. All the cards are getting more powerful, not just the creatures.

Case in point: the lands in the new set. Way back in Invasion block, when I stopped buying cards regularly, they had come out with 2 very nice types of lands: the duals (ex. Urborg Volcano) whose only drawback was coming into play tapped, and the triple lands (ex. Darigazz' Caldera) whose drawback had you return another land to your hand on playing them. These were much better than the old multicolor-land solutions (the pain lands ex. Sulfurous Springs, the ones that stayed tapped for a turn if you used them ex. Cinder Marsh, and especially the depletion counter ones ex. Lava Tubes), but still of course weaker than the original duals. There were some more nonbasics in Ravnica that could be considered improvements even on those (ex. Rakdos Carnarium, Blood Crypt). Then, in Alara, they went even more nuts. Triple-color lands whose only drawback was coming into play tapped? Duals that wouldn't even do that as long as you controlled a basic of that color pair? And now, I see in the new set that they've improved on the old invasion block ones again with a set that come into play tapped but gain you 1 life. It's a small difference, but you can't really tell me power creep isn't occurring if there are cards still frequently being released that are strictly better than older ones.

The last thing I could say is an extension of the bit about lands. There are now so many different types of multi-lands (to say nothing of the ones that add any color at all), that it would be easy indeed to make a deck without any basic lands at all. Extra mana from elves and artifacts has gotten better as well. Combine that with the fact that so many of the über-powerful spells and creatures these days have as their sole drawback that they cost 6 converted mana or more of varying colors, and you've got a situation where that drawback is nearly eliminated. Used to be you had to work to make a deck that could play Sliver Queen; now in Alara block you can build a working 5-color deck in Limited for crying out loud!
 
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Bruce Glassco
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Burnham wrote:
We're just casual players. Not to say we intentionally make weak decks, but it's not much fun to get beaten so badly by a super fast combo deck that you feel like you've been violated! Occasionally we will happen to come up with a super-kill near-auto-win deck, but after about a game or two with/against it, we get bored of it and take it apart.



This is just my observation about casual groups. I've run a game club at the community college where I teach for the last ten years or so, where groups of gamers coalesce, then disappear as everyone graduates.

My experience with Magic and other CCGs is that, often, people have fond memories of playing it when they were younger (sometimes must younger). They respond with enthusiasm when I suggest that everyone bring in their decks. I enjoy playing my non-tournament, quirky, fun decks, and we have a few months of really fun gaming.

Then someone starts to get really into it, and blows a few hundred dollars buying cards on the internet to make an uber-deck. Then someone else makes an uber-deck to try to take it on. The two uber-decks play a few times until one has established supremacy, but in the meantime, everyone else has stopped having fun. The siren lure of Ebay begins to take its toll, and people start divesting themselves. The winning uber-deck goes off to retire in the champion's closet, I bring out the board games again, and that's the end of it.
 
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DT76 wrote:
Way back in Invasion block, when I stopped buying cards regularly, they had come out with 2 very nice types of lands: the duals (ex. Urborg Volcano) whose only drawback was coming into play tapped [...]


The lands like Urborg Volcano (commonly called "taplands") are considered underpowered, and yes Wizards has made all kinds of strictly better lands since Invasion, like the Ravnica block shock lands, the tribe lands from Lorwyn (Auntie's Hovel, for example) and the tri-colour taplands from Alara. Having good multilands makes Magic more fun in my opinion, so I for one am happy to see them, especially at common, like the bouncelands from Ravnica.
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Bruce,

This is the thing that I hate about Magic. There are always multiple power levels of cards depending on how much one is willing to spend.

I get around this by creating multiple decks and getting my friends to use them instead of buying their own cards. I find the main drawback to this is that it's harder to teach people to play when they don't have their own set of cards to take home and look at at their leisure.

I'd be happier if Wizards got rid of the rarity system entirely, so that all the cards were accessible to everyone. I know this would wreak havok with drafting, the way cards are designed now, but Wizards could make it work if they wanted to. Of course, it would cut their profit margin, so forget it...
 
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DT76 wrote:
Case in point: the lands in the new set. Way back in Invasion block, when I stopped buying cards regularly, they had come out with 2 very nice types of lands: the duals (ex. Urborg Volcano) whose only drawback was coming into play tapped, and the triple lands (ex. Darigazz' Caldera) whose drawback had you return another land to your hand on playing them. These were much better than the old multicolor-land solutions (the pain lands ex. Sulfurous Springs, the ones that stayed tapped for a turn if you used them ex. Cinder Marsh, and especially the depletion counter ones ex. Lava Tubes), but still of course weaker than the original duals. There were some more nonbasics in Ravnica that could be considered improvements even on those (ex. Rakdos Carnarium, Blood Crypt). Then, in Alara, they went even more nuts. Triple-color lands whose only drawback was coming into play tapped? Duals that wouldn't even do that as long as you controlled a basic of that color pair? And now, I see in the new set that they've improved on the old invasion block ones again with a set that come into play tapped but gain you 1 life. It's a small difference, but you can't really tell me power creep isn't occurring if there are cards still frequently being released that are strictly better than older ones.

The last thing I could say is an extension of the bit about lands. There are now so many different types of multi-lands (to say nothing of the ones that add any color at all), that it would be easy indeed to make a deck without any basic lands at all. Extra mana from elves and artifacts has gotten better as well. Combine that with the fact that so many of the über-powerful spells and creatures these days have as their sole drawback that they cost 6 converted mana or more of varying colors, and you've got a situation where that drawback is nearly eliminated. Used to be you had to work to make a deck that could play Sliver Queen; now in Alara block you can build a working 5-color deck in Limited for crying out loud!


The original dual lands were completely unbalanced, and they followed that by making dual lands that pretty much sucked for years. The Ravnica block duals are the best ones since the originals, as, like their predecessors, they have both basic land types which matters a lot for tutoring and a bit for effects that count them, with the only drawback being your choice of coming into play tapped or a one-time payment of two life. Combined with the fetchlands to dig them up (allied in Onslaught, enemy coming coming up in Zendikar), they're the default manabase of Extended. In recent years, the filter lands from Shadowmoor & Eventide are also very good, and the Vivid lands from Lorwyn and their very similar cousins the three-color comes-into-play-tapped lands from Alara are also very useful, and make Reflecting Pool completely ridiculous.

Big, expensive spells have also gotten a lot better because Wizards has realized that being that big and expensive is already enough of a drawback. Given the dynamics of how you go through your initial hand of seven cards and then have to keep drawing, six mana turns out to be a lot more expensive the four, and needs to be really impressive since there's a good chance a typical constructed game will be over before you can ever cast it.

I'd say there's not really power creep occurring for the most part, an occasional exception aside (that might or might not sound like Pain-gazer Dongle). The overall power level of sets since Ravnica has fluctuated around some but the average over time seems fairly steady. It's definitely the case that cards as a whole today are more powerful than cards used to be way back when. It's just that people only remember the few horrifically broken old cards that dominate eternal formats and forget all the utter garbage that came with them.
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