Old cards: Powerful, or Broken?

Discussion in 'General CPA Stuff' started by TheCasualOblivion, Jan 25, 2005.

  1. TheCasualOblivion 10 year Veteran Newbie

    This was always a classic argument. I was recently having a discussion with DUke over on another thread about this:


    So there's the question. Old school undercosted powerful cards:

    Hypnotic Specter
    Dual Lands
    Lightning Bolt
    Swords to Plowshares
    Kird Ape
    Serendib Efreet
    Hymn to Tourach
    Control Magic
    Counterspell(??--it has been eliminated from the main game)
    Mishra's Factory

    Just a few off the top of my head.

    I've heard two opinions on cards like these all the way back to my first days during 4th edition. Those who cry foul, and go on and on about how "broken" and unfair these cards are, and people like me who say "Lightning Bolt go BOOM!"

    Talk amongst yourselves.
  2. DÛke Memento Mori

    And I'll come here and throw my 2 cents on the ground.

    I for one don't belong to either of your cases. I don't cry and I don't go "boom!". I beat you with a stick and stab you in the back when you least expect it. Yup.

    I don't think they're broken, but I do think that their power level is not in par with how Magic has developed.

    You will never see this, for example:

    Blue Instant (1U)
    Draw 2 cards.

    Why? Because it has become standard that 2 cards, fair and square, are worth 3U at Instant, and not 1U. Or, otherwise, 2 cards for 2U, but as Sorcery. Anything that does not abide by these now-ingrained standards is bound to be either too weak or overpowered, unless given appropriate modifications.

    You will never see this:

    Red Instant (R)
    Red Instant deals 4 damage to target creature or player.

    Why? Because the standard is 2 damage for a single R, at Instant speed (aka, Shock). Anything different needs to have other advantages/disadvantages. Otherwise, you run to the same issue: either too weak or too powerful.

    Red Instant Two (1R)
    Red Instant Two deals 2 damage to target creature or player.

    This is weak. Why? Because the standard is 2 damage for 1R at Instant speed must have some other advantages. Otherwise, the card is underpowered.

    There are cases in which such distinctions become more blurry, admittedly, though in the cases that you mention, such as that of Lightning Bolt...well...

    Lightning Bolt breaches the standard that has been developed over the years now. These subtle standards, for subtle eyes, by all means, didn't just come on their own and weren't there out of nowhere or in one day. They're the result of a game that has grown more mature and more self-aware, no matter how flawed and, even, uncreative it is at times. You are calling for a paradigm shift. You want the standards to be turned on their head within one set, and not over the course of some time. You want to go from Shock to Lightning Bolt, from Hinder to Counterspell. Such a thing is an immature move should it be WotC who decides it: it would single-handedly deal a good blow to the game

    I don’t think the cards are broken by any means, but you are wanting to place these cards in a “core” set – i.e, a wishful 9th Edition, which arises all of these issues.

    If you notice, all of the cards you have on your list are as old as the game itself…and most of them have been for long out of the loop…for good evolutionary and mature reasons, might I add. The fact that these cards are that old means that they are fundamentally not in par with current power standards. In the cases of the cards you mention, they are much more powerful, though I’m sure you know many cards that are not in par with the current power standards because they are actually weaker.

    At the end, maybe…just maybe…there are 2 types of people when it comes to this issue: those who know the maturity of the game, and those who beg for more because they are either new to the game or lack that delicate sight which is by all means required to understand why the cards have become what they are.
  3. TheCasualOblivion 10 year Veteran Newbie

    Wow! Intelligent discussion! Last thing I ever expect from a message board.

    Two things about the game of magic I hold above all else.

    1. Aside from the established Banned/Restricted lists, there are no broken cards, only broken decks. Being a casual player is about not playing broken decks, and has little to do with "broken" cards.

    2. When I first started playing this game, I remember opening a pack and seeing a card and saying "Wow!" I don't remember if the card was Control Magic, or a Serra Angel, or a Shivan Dragon or whatever. It doesn't really matter what the card was, this was back in 4th edition, and I honestly can't remember. The important thing is the "Wow!" We've all done it when we were newbies. "Wow that card is cool, I want one!" We've all said it. Its one of the things I do love about this game. I've chosen to never grow up. I like to say "Wow! Would you look at that!" I've been playing for 10 years, learned the depths of this game, and I choose to play like a newbie. Its fun. Sue me for trying to keep the wonder of the game intact, and the fact that these old "broken" classics tend to sparkle.

    The game has become more mature, more self-aware. It's been made into a well balanced and integrated system. I understand the game fully, I understand what they did and why they did it. I could honestly care less. I poop on your game balance. I'd rather keep that sparkle in my eye and the rush I get from playing a powerful card. I know better, and am capable of playing the "mature" game. I choose not to, and I choose to build decks that play a decent game and don't grind people into the dirt, even while being packed with these "broken" cards. I'm the old timer at the uncool table at the card store, who doesn't bother with the tournaments and prefers to teach the newbies how to play.

    Exactly the discussion I wanted to start. Its more than just us idiots against you smart people.
  4. jorael Craptacular!

    It's easy to smash opponents if you have superior cards. For example, I use Lightning Bolt while my opponent uses shocks. I use counterspells, my opponent spellblast. Easy doesn't mean fun, however.
    I prefer to play with cards because they are fun or cool and sometimes because they are good. I have 4 lightning bolt, but I use them rarely. I have to admit, though, that my 4 swords to plowshares find a place in a lot of white decks. Would I like to see the swords to plowshares reprinted? No. The white shoal fits the standards of magic better and kicks OINK just as the swords!

    Thinking about it some more: there are cards being printed that are very good, but just not so easily to use as the old spells. Especially creature are now 'better' than ever: exalted angel, sakura-trike elder, kokusho, arc-slogger, etc. Mahamoti Djinn was once feared, but now it is overcosted, weak and uninteresting.

    Old school cards like lightning bolt are an automatic 4-of and with the current sets, more thinking is required to use cards as best as possible. That is the paradigm change of magic and one I heartily endorse. Deck building and playing requires more skill and trial-and-error these days, but good cards are still being made.
  5. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    CasualOblivion: DUke pretty much nailed why they're out of the game. You even said as much yourself and understood why. Yet if you turn around and say you don't care for the reasons presented, it pretty much sucks all the argument out.

    Basic reason: while you may be a casual player, others are not, and the game caters to all audiences (whether it leans towards one or the other is up for you to decide :) ) The cards are too strong, either in tourney or draft play or in card design, and frankly, even among casual (or non-tourney) players, while you may not adhere to using these cards all the time, others will.
  6. Ferret CPA Founder, Slacker

    Here's something I find ironic. Hypnotic Spectre (or "Hippie" in my old group) was a very powerful card. Quite often, it would come out on first turn (thanks to Dark Ritual (more on that card in a moment)) and would be a force to be reconed w/ - that is, unless you had another "broken" card to deal w/ it: Lightning Bolt or (if it's the second turn) Counterspell. It's interesting to know that so many cards that are no longer in print used to work against each other...

    ...now, on that whole 2 for 1 mana thing, originally each colour had a card that did 3 of something for one mana:

    Blue: Ancestral Recall - draw 3 cards
    White: Healing Salve - prevent the next 3 damage/gain 3 life
    Green: Giant Growth - target creature gaims +3/+3 until end of turn
    Red: Lightning Bolt - deal 3 damage to a critter or player
    Black: Dark Ritual - add 3 black mana to your mana pool.

    They were all three for one cards. Of course, one was too powerful (part of the power nine!), two were considered "broken" (Lt Bolt and Dk Ritual), one was still considered good utility (giant growth), and the other was hardly used (process of elimination here folks).

    They were a concept w/ a good intentions, but they made the game go too fast or made combos easy, or just made life annoying for their opponents. So, most of them have gone the way of the Lotus...


    "...something about the road to hell being paved..."
  7. Gizmo Composite: 1860

    U1, Instant, Draw Two Cards

    That's slightly too good but not hugely over the top.

    Really the argument isn't about the power of the cards, but their casting costs. That might sound counter-intuitive but hear me out. Most people will agree Hypnotic Spectre is powerful mostly because of Dark Ritual - as a third turn creature he's not significantly more powerful than many other 3cc creatures. Similarly Lightning Bolt offers NOT too much BUT too fast.

    There has been a swinging NOT of how powerful cards are, but of WHEN you get to play your powerful cards. Cards that would previously be scoffed as 1st/2nd turn plays are now being used regularly... while at the same time cards that would previously have been seen as incredible midgame plays are now being totally ignored by much stronger cards with equal casting costs. There are two cards that exemplify this change of weighting more than any other - Ernham Djinn and Serra Angel. Both cards were removed from the basic set many many years ago because they were considered undercosted/overpowered. Yet when they were returned to the basic set they went almost entirely ignored because they were now mediocre.

    It's about weighting the game out of duelling with undercosted spells at 1cc, and moving it to slugging it out with undercosted 4cc cards instead. It is precisely this process that has made Counterspell a problem - in old Magic 2cc Counterspells were fine, because good cards also cost 1/2cc - sure they annoyed crap players, but crap players are crap so that's fair, and getting beaten by Counterspell and understanding WHY you were getting beaten by it is one of the truly epiphanic moments in a Magic player's development. But now that even GOOD players are using 3/4cc cards instead of 1/2cc cards, Counterspell has to go.

    So to tackle each in turn...
    Hypnotic Spectre - a reasonable card if you take out Dark Ritual. Hollow Spectre didn't even come close to tournament decks, and he's not far off being a Hyppie. Marginally undercosted, and mostly it's a problem because random discard is a bad mechanic, not because it's overpowered.

    Dual Lands - broken. Having cards that outperform other staple cards without a drawback is a no-no.

    Lightning Bolt - undercosted, not broken

    Swords To Plowshares - undercosted. Vastly, it's hard to know what price would be fair, even at a W2 Instant, it seems too good.

    Kird Ape - arguably fair without dual lands. +1/+1 would be fair, certainly.

    Serendib Efreet - undercosted

    Hymn To Tourach - broken

    Control Magic - fair, probably weak. Worse than Treachery or Legacy's Allure, and possibly Dominate.

    Counterspell - has been made undercosted by the shift of power levels. Is fair outside of T2.

    Mishra's Factory - undercosted for an ability any colour can use.
  8. Reverend Love New Member

    Without access to Dark Rituals, I'm not exactly sure Hippy would even see play in standard. Look at "awesome" fatties that were reprinted and saw exactly 0 play. Serra, Sengir, and Ernham. Creatures have come quite a ways since I first started playing the game. Heck hippy has seen reprint in the form of Headhunter and Silent Specter without anyone as taking a second look!

    In today's environment of weak hand destruction, combined with tons of burn and control, hippy would be a bench warmer.

    Now if they reprinted Hymn and Hippy in the same set...we'd have trouble.
  9. DÛke Memento Mori

    On its own it's slightly too good, yes. But the implications that it has on established standards are many. It instantly beats Inspiration, but more so, it easily beats Counsel of the Soratami - a card which is seeing play rather easily already, in CHK block, in any case. The existence of such a card will require the adjustment of many other cards in the set in which it comes, and will also require the modification of the entire power level in general, if the game is to keep its balance, that is. That's why such a hypothetical card will never, ever...see the light of existence; not on its own anyway. A set which includes it would be a set that has cards equally as radical and equally as deviant from what is now plainly established. Even this:

    1U, instant, draw two cards and discard a card…

    …even that is too good, as a matter of fact, as it straight-out beats Catalog, a card which is not all that bad.
    At 2W it's great; it can still be splashed and still stand out as one of the fastest and best single creature removal in the game. At 1WW, however, it is ideal, and were I to re-release a version of it in a future set, 1WW it would be, unless the set is more prismatic, then I would even dare pump the price to 3W. At 3W it is still considerably playable even in a Standard environment.
    You're right. Though Oblivion wants the "whole package" of "power cards" unleashed right away, cards which also include Hymn to Tourach.
  10. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Totally agree with Gizmo's analysis and what everyone said after.

    As an addendum to Ferret's 3 for 1 notes, it's interesting that it took a while for Bolt and Dark Ritual to be considered too strong (and Ritual longer than Bolt). I think Giant Growth was finally deemed too strong too unless it just disappeared form the basic set just because. It's just not showing up. Life gain/prevention alas, always seems to be the weakest ability (maybe until the "win game when you reach <x> life cards were printed, I don't know).

    And they were all going to be common, even Ancestral Recall, until even in playtesting they found that drawing cards was the best thing you can do in a game. Even under Garfield's vision of everyone just having access to a couple starters - 4 or 5 rares total. :)
  11. Tabasco DDR Fanatic

    RE: to what others have said....

    I think that those who thought Serra Angel was broken would fall completely on their faces if they saw some of the newer angels....like Akroma and Exalted.

    In response to the reprinting of STP.... they did reprint it in a way...only they made it more fair....I am talking about Reciprocate from CoK.

    Speaking of broken...what are everyones views on Library of Alexandra (... of the Power 10)
  12. Mr_Pestilence Wumpus

    The cards you mentioned were certainly powerful in their day, but a scan of the "top" Type I decks will show that these cards are not even being used in tournament play.

    So, their "power" is relative to the overall pool of cards in which they are being used. They are generally fair for casual play, but that's about it.
  13. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    What is the point here? That you can weaken any card by changing it in some way? That should be obvious enough...

    The mana cost is the easiest thing to alter (although it won't work with lands).

    As far as the cards on the list go, to me they are not problematic or anything. They are staples of the game which have been around for a long time, typically from the beginning (although some are from the early expansions). These are the cards that used to be seen all the time. Newer players and those who only participate in rotating formats probably don't use them or see them from across the table very often, but they've been replaced by other cards...

    The dual lands in particular have stuck around in Vintage (and are also important to Legacy). Some of the others show up too, if the decks they fit in are good at the time.

    I have all of the cards listed in the first post of this thread (except I traded my Factories) and use tend to use them. They won't be reprinted, but they'll still see lots of casual play at the very least.
  14. Istanbul Sucker MCs call me sire.

    Broken cards are bad for Magic. They get rotated out for a reason. 3 damage for 1 mana is too good, when it can go to creatures or players. White shouldn't have cheaper spot creature elimination than black. Dual lands are bad because they make basic lands obsolete, which nothing should ever do.

    I like winning. But I want these broken cards to stay gone, because I like Magic even more. If these cards were brought back, Magic would begin its slow decline into death.
  15. jorael Craptacular!

    Last week I had a thought:

    The invasion double lands come into play tapped. But what if they make 10 double lands that come into play normally but are legendary?

    It would fit perfectly in Kamigawa! But is it broken? Probably it is, because you can just add all 10 to any deck and still have 4 mana producers of each color (e.g. green: w/g, g/r, g/u, g/b).

    Too bad....
  16. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    One, I don't think these are "staples". Yeah, most have been around since the first sets, but the first sets were also the "exploratory" phase of Magic with what turned out to be an unrealistic vision of the game (everyone only having and playing a max cardpool of about two starters), not a rigorous playtesting procedure, and not a deep understanding about the powerful inherent mechanics of the game, namely that drawing cards is god (they kinda got that with Ancestral Recall but didn't fully get it, hence Library of Alexandria and Bazaar of Baghdad).

    Two, the reason why they're seen all the time is because of their effects per cc, not because they are "staples". You don't see Pearled Unicorn or Gray Ogre, though they have been around since the beginning and due to that line of reasoning, are also "staples". The list of cards in question are simply the most powerful for what they do - no subsequent card is going to beat them. That's why you use Bolts over Shocks, Giant Growth over whatever gived +2/+2 for G, dual lands over the multiple incarnations that have come after, always with a cost. When you have access to the entire card pool, you're generally going to use the best card available.

    Regarding Tabasco's question, I think the Library deserves to be on the list. I am fortunate enough to have one and while I don't put it in ALL my decks, it goes in most (mainly because I have only one and can't put it in all my decks at the same time :) ) It can go in any deck due to its ability and colorless producing mana, and the "drawback" of having seven cards is pretty negligible. As stated, drawing cards is pretty much the best non-kill thing you can do and the Library allows it for free and "uncounterable" (good LD target though). Four in a deck would just be insane.
  17. Ferret CPA Founder, Slacker

    On the topic of Library of Alexandria, I know how powerful that card can be because my old roommate used to find ways to draw a couple of cards each turn (normal+Library) and make them work. It got even worse when cards like Howling Mine (another staple) was in play. He could put it to any deck and always have a keen advantage of the rest of the players (except, when I had my Sylvan Library out.) It deserves to be gone - long gone!


    "Sylvan Library: paying life for cards long before Necropotence!"
  18. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    At least in MP where I used it and was drawing the two cards a turn as you mentioned, I was finding a hard time to even use those two cards (although it was in a control deck so I had to wait for threats anyway). I ended up discarding a lot of land :)
  19. Reverend Love New Member

    I disagree; it's not only dual lands. Basic lands are obsolete regardless of what's in print. Painlands, Fetchlands, Glimmervoids, Manlands, all replace x4 basic lands. Basic lands have and always will be filler land. Dual lands are only the most indicative of the bunch.

    Basic lands rule the roost of draft, everywhere else they play second chair, as should be.
  20. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Do people counter with stuff like Blood Moon then?

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