Magic Memories: Survival of the Fittest

Discussion in 'Single Card Strategies' started by Oversoul, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    By the way, did you see the "Banned from Constructed play" post I made? It was inspired by a quote from you, which I just happened to see while looking for one of my own posts when I was writing stuff in this thread. And now here you are! Coincidence?
  2. Shabbaman insert avatar here

    You mean the last part of the first post? I saw a thread linked there where I mentioned the upcoming ban of Survival. EDIT: I just found your thread, it has a reference to the same thread I mentioned in the previous sentence.

    I'm not one for predetermination ;) I saw this thread, and because it's about one of my favorite cards I had to comment on it. It might be a coincidence that I saw the thread.

    It's a long time ago, so I'm not sure. Maybe it makes more sense that I got them to upgrade my vintage null rod zoo to legacy RGSA.

    You have a point there. I'm sure Survival could be use "fairly" in Legacy if they'd banned Vengevine. I think the card is strong enough that it'd still be a major archetype. That'd have prevented, or slowed, new archetypes to emerge. While Wizards has foresight, they don't perfectly predict what will be dominant (referring to Stoddard's articles on the Future Future League here, interesting read). I can imagine that the possibility of Survival slowing down the sale of new cards didn't make them happy. That's not incompetence, but malignance (depending on your viewpoint, obviously).
  3. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    I don't know. Maybe. If they were to actually go and unban the card in the next announcement, which they won't, people would definitely try to bring it back in competitive Legacy. But once the dust settled, would it still be part of the metagame? I'd like to think that the card could find a niche, but without overpowering the rest of the format. It might just not be good enough to make a first tier deck in Legacy anymore.

    I think this article does a good job of elucidating a lot of the skepticism that has built up surrounding the efficacy of the FFL.
  4. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    In some of the posts that I've already made, I've claimed that Survival of the Fittest didn't need to be banned in Legacy back in 2010. To summarize my basis for this contention...

    -In the wake of the ban on Mystical Tutor, pure combo decks took a hit and were also underplayed even despite that hit. Such decks were a bad matchup for Survival of the Fittest and were potentially some of the most powerful decks available in 2010, but they were just not popular enough to put up big numbers. Dredge was also capable of spanking Vengevival decks like a baby. The deck had predators, but the predators were challenging decks to play, lacked broad appeal, and it was often more rewarding for established players to just jump on the bandwagon themselves. If you can pick up Vengevival and win with it because you are skilled and because you can build an optimal version of the deck, why play a deck that is good against Vengevival when no one else is either?
    -Legacy had gotten an influx of new players, many of whom flocked to budget decks and decks that were easier to play. Zoo, in particular, was extremely popular back then and was easy prey for Vengevival.
    -Survival of the Fittest is just a really fun card. People have always loved it, even at times when it didn't make for a top competitive deck. When an explosive aggro-combo deck powered by Survival of the Fittest became such a powerful option, everyone jumped on the bandwagon, saturating Legacy with Vengevival decks. At other times, even when cards have eventually been rightly banned because of dominance, it has usually taken longer for a good deck to catch on so much.
    -DCI bans, especially for cards that had been seeing play for a long time and were eventually becoming problematic, have usually taken a while. Vengevival came on the scene and only got a few months. If there'd been more time, the metagame would have caught up to it.
    -The next few sets released after Survival of the Fittest was banned completely changed the face of Legacy, and they would have done so even if the card hadn't been banned. While the average player wasn't in a position to predict this, allowing some reasonable time to adapt would have shown it to be true anyway.

    But I do have to admit, by December of 2010 when the card was banned, at least it was putting up very strong numbers. Other decks have also done so since then, but setting that aside, one could at least try to argue that Survival of the Fittest looked like a reasonable ban at the time. We discussed that point back then and I suppose that everyone made up their minds. So that's that. Believe what you will about the banworthiness of the card in December of 2010. I want to move on. In fact, let's move on to today. In March of 2017, how would Survival of the Fittest do? After all, the card was banned in 2010 and has been since then. There's no going back on that. But does the card need to stay banned now? I'm inclined to voice a strong "no." But a full analysis is really quite difficult. Complications include...

    -It has been over six years since the ban. Many, many new cards have been added to the format. Six years is a long time in Magic.
    -If it had just been the passage of six years and the corresponding release of sets, that would be one thing, but within that six years is included the greatest time of upheaval and evolution in the metagame. Maverick took over, dominating Legacy far more than Vengevival ever did. Storm combo evolved into more consistent lists, boosted by Past in Flames. Show and Tell went from being a mostly obscure card to being one of the biggest powerhouses in the format. Reanimator became far more powerful. Tempo decks rose, evolved, diversified, and sometimes overtook the format. And Miracles happened. The top decks in Legacy today are probably Miracles, BUG/Team America/Sultai whatever, Delver, Death and Taxes, Sneak and Show, and Eldrazi. Other than Death and Taxes, none of those decks really even existed as archetypes when Survival was banned.
    -Survival of the Fittest is an extremely flexible card, as the different decks I've examined in this thread should highlight. While the Vengevival lists of 2010 wouldn't be able to compete with the top decks of today, we don't know what a 2017 Survival deck might look like. One notion is that as the pool of cards in Legacy grows, more creatures become available and Survival of the Fittest gets stronger as it can tutor for any creature. To me, it might look like Vengevine with Madness cards is still one of the strongest things to be doing with SotF, but it is largely unexplored territory.
    -Some cards that would make things difficult for Survival decks didn't exist when the card was banned. Abrupt Decay is the most obvious example.

    I consider it a safe unban, but I should emphasize that neither side has clear, indisputable evidence to back it up. Until the card is actually unbanned, we don't know for sure that it was, indeed, safe.
  5. Shabbaman insert avatar here

    FWIW, from what I read the card isn't exactly loved in EDH...
  6. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    You've got a point. But because of the nature of that format, creature-based synergies are very strong and being able to tutor for particular creatures cheaply is one of the most powerful effects one can get. Survival is probably one of the most potent cards that any green-heavy deck has access to. It's certainly more powerful than most of the cards on the "official" official Banned List. It's also a Reserved List card, and not everyone has a copy. Whether a Commander deck uses SotF seems to mostly be down to whether or not the player owns the card, rather than whether it is a good strategic inclusion, because it always is. I can see how that would get tiresome. But since it's banned in Legacy, Commander is just about the only environment where it is both legal and powerful. It's the format responsible for the $45 price tag, and it's worth keeping in mind that for EDH use, one only needs a single copy. So people may complain about it, but its usage speaks for itself. I imagine that if Vintage were somehow more widely played and I tried to go into tournaments with a budget deck, I might lose a lot of games on account of opponents using a copy of Black Lotus. I might notice that the card gives them an advantage and lament that the card is broken. But really, isn't that sort of the point? People enjoy Black Lotus. They just don't enjoy it when they're always on the receiving end of what it offers.

    This might also be the resident complainers in the format. Not just dissatisfied players, but ones who seem disproportionately upset that their own opinion, a minority opinion, has no clout. Every format seems to get them. Maybe I'm one myself. I tend not to think so, but I'm biased. I'm referring to the same sort of people who, in Standard, insisted that Siege Rhino needed to be banned, or that Aetherworks Marvel needed to be banned. In EDH, this manifests not so much as calls to ban cards, but more as general whining at the players who dare to pilot the offending strategies, that they're playing against the spirit of the format. The example that sticks with me from a few years back is the player, I think he had a greedy five-color manabase, who was livid that his opponent was locking down and destroying some of his lands, keeping him out of some of his colors and keeping him behind so that he lost. It was just so very cruel and unfun, preventing this poor, helpless player from getting to do what he wanted to do? And what did he want to do? Oh, just ramp mana a bit, chain creatures into each other, cheat out a Craterhoof Behemoth, and attack for 300 or whatever. You see, that's fun. That's the spirit of the format.
  7. Shabbaman insert avatar here

    I don't think EDH is the only reason SotF is expensive; magic cards seem to have a price history. Cards that have been worth something are overpriced compared to cards that haven't. And besides that, it's a good speculation target.
  8. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Price memory is a thing, but in the case of SotF, its price sank rapidly after it was banned in Legacy and it has since climbed steadily. I don't think it's just because of EDH, but given how often I see it turn up in EDH decks, I'm assuming that's a big part of it. The fact that it's a Reserved List card probably helps. I see a substantial spike in the price history back in 2014, which I assume is due to speculators. But I imagine that EDH must be a factor. It is easily much pricier than any other Exodus Reserved List rare other than City of Traitors.

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