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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Apr-12 11:35 am 

Joined: 2008-Aug-08 6:34 am
Age: Elder Dragon
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Stardust wrote:
onlainari wrote:
No, it's honestly because no one plays a deck with enough artifacts. It's not weird, bugger all blue decks on this forum play it either.
That's actually true. There are very few decks apart from Arcum or Sharuum that play this card. It's just too narrow to warrant a ban.


Thada Adel plays it!

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Apr-12 12:05 pm 
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Trevor sums up the RC's thoughts on MW vs Academy pretty well... our concern is with cards which generate large amounts of mana extremely early in the game. Academy requires the artifacts to be in play before it gets busted so it takes a few turns to set up. MW is powered by artifacts in hand, which means there's no tempo expenditure required to set it up.

Once the game is in swing, empowering effects like Academy aren't the kind of thing that keep me up at night. Sure, they can win games but winning games isn't intrinsically bad and people have had a chance to build up position, find answers, etc. Metal Worker on the other hand is at its most powerful in the early turns where it can wreck the game before it gets interesting.

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Apr-12 2:57 pm 

Joined: 2008-Sep-22 8:04 am
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Stardust wrote:
That's actually true. There are very few decks apart from Arcum or Sharuum that play this card. It's just too narrow to warrant a ban.


Metalworker is a lot more narrow, and requires playing even more artifacts to be effective. Tolarian Academy is not narrow--it's fantastic in a large majority of blue decks. Just looking at my lists, I play Tolarian Academy in Arcum and Sharuum, but also in Azami, Dralnu, Erayo, Experiment Kraj, Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, Horde of Notions (storm combo), Jhoira, Merieke, Momir Vig, Niv-Mizzet, Oona, Sedris, U/W Sygg, and Zur. Academy is one of the best and most powerful cards in every one of those decks. It is NOT a narrow card. Metalworker is far more narrow: it's only playable in Karn, Arcum, and Sharuum. That's it.

Thank you for the response Genomancer. With all due respect, I really find your tempo comparison between Academy and Metalworker to be flawed. Brokenly good fast mana exists in EDH, notably Sol Ring and Mana Crypt. In an artifact-heavy deck (which is the only kind of deck that could conceivably play MW at all), Tolarian Academy comes online faster than Metalworker. It is not at all uncommon or unrealistic for Tolarian Academy to be producing 3 mana on turn 2 and 4-6 mana on turn 3. Usually, this is before MW even comes online. MW also has to survive a turn before you get any use out of it...Academy does not.

As someone who played Sharuum extensively when MW was unbanned, I can tell you with honesty that Tolarian Academy was always a much more powerful card, even in the opening turns. Almost any hand containing Metalworker would be better if the MW were Tolarian Academy instead.

When you can play artifacts that tap for more mana than they cost, setting up Tolarian Academy is not slow or a tempo loss. The few turns to set it up happen on turn 1 and 2...by the time Metalworker usually becomes active (if it becomes active), Tolarian Academy is usually already better. And as each turn goes on, Tolarian Academy only gets better, while Metalworker becomes dramatically worse.


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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Apr-12 3:43 pm 
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Khymera wrote:
Tolarian Academy comes online faster than Metalworker. It is not at all uncommon or unrealistic for Tolarian Academy to be producing 3 mana on turn 2 and 4-6 mana on turn 3. Usually, this is before MW even comes online. MW also has to survive a turn before you get any use out of it...Academy does not.


You are not wrong. However, you're making the wrong argument.

If Academy is producing this much mana, then someone is making an active effort to break Academy; it's not happening by accident. EDH is a format where, if you want to break it, you can break it, and combating that would require large banlist changes and nuking a bunch of cards have fun applications (which we finally had to do, with great regret, with the Hulk). There's minimal interest in doing that, and people who don't understand that are going to keep hitting their head against the wall.

In decks not trying to abuse it, Academy is a nice splashy card that might build up to a threat over the course of a game. It's obviously very good in Karn and heavy artifact decks, but, short of the active abuse attempts, scales up linearly. If it's producing 5 mana on turn 7, well, that seems fine.

Metalworker, in those same decks in which Academy is fun and splashy, turns out to be a bigger issue - it comes online and suddenly generates 10 mana even when you weren't actively trying to abuse it. That's unfortunate, and a large reason why Metalworker is on the banlist (the interaction with Staff of Domination doesn't help :P )

To put it another way - pulling Academy out of a spikey Sharuum deck isn't going to make the deck a lot less spikey or annoying to play against (and if that's your thing, ignore the banlist and have fun). Pulling Metalworker out of a timmy Karn deck may prevent games from accidentally sucking.


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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Apr-12 3:59 pm 
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The only way Metalworker is producing 10 mana is when you are absolutely committed to playing Metalworker. In other words, you need to have an excellently scuplted opening hand AND deck to begin with. There are an unbelievably small number of decks that can abuse Metalworker than decks that can abuse something such as... say Kokusho.

Metalworker is VERY fragile and it has summoning sickness. By the time I'm able to untap with Metalworker, it will almost certainly have died after one turn around the table. Every single color has a ton of answers to 3rd turn Metalworker. It's really not asking that much of an EDH deck to be able to answer a card that is both a creature and an artifact.

If you want to ban cards because they provide explosive mana production, then ban the actual cards that do this -- Rofellos, Tolarian Academy, Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, etc. Just because someone can get the god hand of 10+ mana with Metalworker on turn 4 in a random game should not be a primary reason for banning a card.

And finally, if Staff of Domination + Metalworker is problematic, you're better off just banning Staff instead. Staff of Domination is a card that pretty much has no purpose but to fuel infinite combos with Rofellos, Magus of the Coffers, Priest of Titania, and other mass mana producers.

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Apr-12 4:24 pm 
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papa_funk was exaggerating for effect when he said 10+ ;) The problem is 4-5 mana on turn 4, which we feel is a significant departure from 2 mana from Sol Ring/Crypt. And 4 mana happens pretty routinely in Karn/Sharuum decks. I don't believe it happens as routinely with Academy and, more importantly, when it does they've usually played out most of their gas in the form of signets to get there.
Surging Chaos wrote:
answers to 3rd turn Metalworker.


Not answers we want people to play a critical mass of in EDH. It's true that we hold creatures and artifacts as "reasonably disruptable" in EDH, moreso than lands to boot, but "Answer a turn 3 creature or get Slaved/Titaned" is bleh :)

<overstatement>Turns 1-5 are sacred in EDH... everyone should get that much time to jockey for position. After that, things start to get messy, and that's ok</overstatement>

Quote:
Staff of Domination is a card that pretty much has no purpose but to fuel infinite combos with Rofellos


This is a position which has gained some traction with the RC of late. We're looking at both sides of the equation though.

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Apr-12 6:49 pm 

Joined: 2008-Sep-22 8:04 am
Age: Drake
papa_funk wrote:
If Academy is producing this much mana, then someone is making an active effort to break Academy; it's not happening by accident. EDH is a format where, if you want to break it, you can break it, and combating that would require large banlist changes and nuking a bunch of cards have fun applications (which we finally had to do, with great regret, with the Hulk). There's minimal interest in doing that, and people who don't understand that are going to keep hitting their head against the wall.


I understand what you're saying, but this is totally inconsistent, even in the example you gave. Okay, Academy is breakable, but usually only if you try (try = run a lot of artifacts). Protean Hulk is also breakable, but only if you try (try = include and go for a very specific combo). Hulk has tons of fun applications, and can only be broken in a 3-5 color deck if someone really tries to. It's impossible to break Hulk by accident.

If you're not trying to make EDH unbreakable, which would seem to be the point of a banlist in the first place, then what are you doing banning Protean Hulk and not Tolarian Academy? There's a discrepancy here.

I'm not saying the Protean Hulk should be unbanned...just that the same criteria are not being applied to all cards. If a card is easily breakable, it should be banned. Otherwise, the banlist is of very limited use. The kind of casual playgroup you're talking about doesn't even need a banlist--no one's going to play Worldgorger Dragon combo in a casual group. If they do, it's not casual, and it's only when things have become not casual, that a banlist is required.

papa_funk wrote:
Metalworker, in those same decks in which Academy is fun and splashy, turns out to be a bigger issue - it comes online and suddenly generates 10 mana even when you weren't actively trying to abuse it. That's unfortunate, and a large reason why Metalworker is on the banlist (the interaction with Staff of Domination doesn't help :P )


As SC and Geno pointed out, 10 mana is a serious overexaggeration. 4 mana is more likely. In any deck where you have enough artifacts to play Metalworker, Tolarian Academy is going to randomly produce just as much as mana.

Genomancer wrote:
papa_funk was exaggerating for effect when he said 10+ ;) The problem is 4-5 mana on turn 4, which we feel is a significant departure from 2 mana from Sol Ring/Crypt. And 4 mana happens pretty routinely in Karn/Sharuum decks. I don't believe it happens as routinely with Academy and, more importantly, when it does they've usually played out most of their gas in the form of signets to get there.


Just out of curiosity, I pulled out my Sharuum deck (which certainly does actively try to abuse Academy) and drew 10 hands of Tolarian Academy and 6 random cards. I mulliganed appropriately, and goldfished each hand out to turn 3.

By turn 3, I had 5 hands where Academy produced 3 mana, and 5 hands where it produced 4 mana.

In combination with my other lands and artifacts, my total mana available on turn 3 was:
5 (1 time, but had Memory Jar too)
6 (1 time)
7 (2 times)
8 (2 times)
9 (1 time)
10 (2 times)
11 (2 times)

Average: 9.2 mana

(Interestingly, the 10 and 11 mana hands occurred in the 4 games where I drew or tutored for Sol Ring or Mana Crypt).

To get some idea of the importance of Tolarian Academy for this hands, I figured out what the total mana production had the Tolarian Academy been an Island instead.

4 (3 times)
5 (3 times)
6 (2 times)
7 (1 time)
8 (1 time)

Average: 5.4 mana

Again, the 4 top mana-producing hands were those with Sol Ring or Mana Crypt.

This is obviously a small sample size, but it indicates that, in my Sharuum deck, the average gain from Tolarian Academy on turn 3 is in the range of 3.5 - 3.8 mana.

Now, I wasn't initially intending to do this, but I'm going to draw 10 hands with Metalworker, and do the same kind of analysis. I'm using exactly the same list, but with Tolarian Academy replaced by Metalworker. This deck is about as optimal a place for Metalworker as any non-Karn deck can be.

I'm going to count up the mana on turn 4 instead of turn 3 when necessary, because frankly if I look on turn 3 Metalworker will most often be producing 0 mana. This comparison is going to be somewhat biased in favor of Metalworker (because of the extra turn, and because I'm assuming Metalworker never gets killed).

Total mana after turn 2 Metalworker activation:
10 mana (1 time)

Total mana after turn 3 Metalworker activation:
5 mana (1 time)
7 mana (1 time)
9 mana (1 time)
10 mana (2 times)
12 mana (1 time)

Average: 8.83 mana

Total mana after turn 4 Metalworker activation:
5 mana (1 time)
7 mana (2 times)

Metalworker ends up being a lot streakier than Tolarian Academy, so I'm even more uncomfortable trying to take any meaning from this data. papa_funk is definitely right that there are times when it's insane.

I do find it interesting that, when looking at the average total mana produced, Tolarian Academy did result in more mana, on average, than a Metalworker activation on turn 3. The sample size is too small to really trust this, but it's worth noting that this comparison definitely favored Metalworker, as Metalworker cannot always be activated on turn 3, and is more vulnerable to removal.

So, I'm not quite sure what I'm just shown about Metalworker (probably nothing), but I do think I showed that Tolarian Academy is consistently better than 4-5 on turn 4, which is the zone you've delineated as a problem. On average, Tolarian Academy is close to producing 4 on on turn 3...by turn 4, it's almost always at 5 mana or more.

Edit:
By the way, I should mention that I'm not necessarily saying that Tolarian Academy should be banned. I think it would be a reasonable card to ban, but I don't think it's exactly warping the format. What bothers me is not that Tolarian Academy is unbanned, but that mana producers that are weaker than Tolarian Academy (and Sol Ring and Mana Crypt) ARE banned. I'm actually in favor of reducing the number of banned cards here, not increasing it.


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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Apr-12 8:42 pm 
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Khymera wrote:
So, I'm not quite sure what I'm just shown about Metalworker (probably nothing)


Well, I respect that... it's indicative of an honest analysis.

I admit I'm surprised by the mana distribution you found Tolarian Academy generating. Can you send me the decklist by PM, and any rules you used for mulliganing? I believe your testing, but I'm curious what invalid assumptions I was making. I suspect that you (and possibly some/most others) are playing a higher number of accelerants than I do.

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Apr-12 10:29 pm 
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There's also a difference in the level of focus that a typical 1v1 Sharuum list has when compared to a multiplayer Sharuum list.

I did a similar goldfish test run with my multiplayer Sharuum deck, choosing to mulligan to hands that gave me a sure path to Academy by turn 3. These are the results:

Total mana after turn 3, essentially how much mana I would have available on my 4th turn's upkeep, through 10 trials:

1 - 6(2 from Tolarian Academy)
2 - 5(1 from Tolarian Academy)
3 - 6(2 from Tolarian Academy)
4 - 7(3 from Tolarian Academy)
5 - 5(1 from Tolarian Academy)
6 - 5(2 from Tolarian Academy)
7 - 10(4 from Tolarian Academy)
8 - 6(2 from Tolarian Academy)
9 - 6(4 from Tolarian Academy)
10 - 10(2 from Tolarian Academy)

Average: 6.6(2.3 from Tolarian Academy)

I also found, not too surprisingly, that the most explosive hands occurred when I had more than one cheap mana producing artifact, or an artifact land.

Now, I'm against banning Tolarian Academy, and all for unbanning Metalworker, but I felt it was necessary to shed some light on what a typical multiplayer list can do with TA. My list, while it is a good solid list, is not the finely tuned combo machine that I know Khymera's list to be. However, I've run across several Sharuum lists in multiple playgroups, and your typical, strong Sharuum list in multiplayer lays out fairly similar to my own.

I know Yawg also plays a somewhat similar Sharuum list, and I'd also be curious to see what numbers he would return on a similar number of trials.

Edit: I feel I should also mention that, were Metalworker to be unbanned, I probably wouldn't even put it back into my deck. Like Khymera has said, it never seems to be quite as good as TA, and it's quite terrible later in the game.

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Apr-13 1:57 am 

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Sent the list to Genomancer.

Just for the record, the list I did the sampling with is a multiplayer list. While I do play it occasionally in 1v1 (where it does well), it's my primary multiplayer deck, and sees far more play in multiplayer. In my competitive playgroup, it has a solid win-loss ratio.

My list may not be the most typical, but it is a multiplayer list as well as a "finely tuned combo machine." I think that it's a solid example of a deck that gets close to maximal use out of both Tolarian Academy and Metalworker. I will admit that most other decks playing Tolarian Academy probably can't make as good use of it as mine (that was kind of the point of the example).


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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Apr-13 7:25 am 
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It's interesting, I've read all the posts since I brought this topic up. It seems now that people are starting to realize how effective it can be early in the game. It also appears that people are starting to understand why cards like shatterstorm, land destruction, and various other methods of hate are not as effective if the Tolarian player has any sort of idea on how to build and play a deck dedicated to it's survival and production. Likewise, I think people also see that a deck can easly be built around TA (or Rofellos for that matter) as compared to MW. I think perhaps, we've also brought up better arguments to the issues surround Staff of Domination which are important as well.


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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Apr-13 8:36 am 
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There is still Rofellos, which I will also cover, as it is much easier to evaluate than Academy is.

As a general, Rofellos is able to always hit play on turn 2. As a singleton card, it is quite unlikely that Metalworker will consistently hit play on turn 3. It's a 1-of buried in the depths of your deck.

Genomancer, you said that decks won't always carry a critical mass of answers to stop a turn 3 Metalworker. What does that say about Rofellos then, who will consistently hit play on turn *2*? At least with Metalworker, since he will only show up as often as the random Reliquary Tower does, so this will considerably mitigate the pressure on the table to be forced to kill Metalworker every single game. Conversely, because Rofellos is a general, he is able to always be cast on turn 2, which puts major pressure on every other player in every single game. That is quite a huge discrepancy.

In terms of mana production, Rofellos generates wads of mana at an obviously fast pace. Having six mana on turn 3 is already crazy enough to begin with, and the total mana production increases by two each turn. Not only is Rofellos able to produce a huge quantity of mana in the early game, but he only gets stronger as the game goes on. Most typical EDH decks get blitzkrieged by Rofellos simply because he is too fast and going silly things on turn 3 when the rest of the table is still just trying to build up their board position and getting their ETBT lands out of the way.

This is why I am so against banning Metalworker. There are simply far too many inconsistencies in banning the card when other cards such as Rofellos and Tolarian Academy completely outclass Metalworker. If you guys want to ban explosive mana acceleration, that's fine... just ban the true offenders instead of having Metalworker be the scapegoat.

As for Staff of Domination, thanks again for looking at it in the RC. I remember Sheldon said it was the one card that was in the most danger of being banned back when he wrote is "top 35 most hated cards" article on SCG, and in a format where you're shunned for assembling easy infinite combos, I'm pretty surprised Staff is still around.

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Apr-18 5:14 pm 

Joined: 2009-Apr-21 3:38 pm
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Location: Palm Springs Area, CA
papa_funk wrote:
In decks not trying to abuse it, Academy is a nice splashy card that might build up to a threat over the course of a game. It's obviously very good in Karn and heavy artifact decks, but, short of the active abuse attempts, scales up linearly. If it's producing 5 mana on turn 7, well, that seems fine.

Is this official permission for me to run TA in my Karn deck. He's been asking me for a while and I keep telling him "But it has blue on it son." Please say yes. I have enough nagging from memnarch asking for a deck ("But you has blue on ya son.") it would be nice to get Karn off my back.

My plan is to take the TA away from Sharuum, who never plays fair, and give it to Karn.

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Apr-18 7:22 pm 
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Surging Chaos wrote:
What does that say about Rofellos then, who will consistently hit play on turn *2*? ... That is quite a huge discrepancy.


You are looking at the issue to closely, too "card to card". If you take a metagame view, Rofellos has a place in the metagame by providing a powerful non-blue non-artifact deck in a metagame heavily featuring such decks. The main issue here is that not all cards are created equal and that by using Rofellos as your general, you are restricted to just colourless and green cards, which is a nice departure from yet another deck featuring blue cards.

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jun-19 12:02 pm 
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I just wanted to thank everyone who participated in this discussion. Though I have a hard time choosing whether Tolarian Academy should or should not be banned, I think we brought up the best points from both sides.


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