Update: they banned this degenerate format the day after the event. Great timing, feels really good – thanks, Wizards!
Took a shot at the two-day Arena Open this weekend. On Day 1 you had to hit 7 wins in Best-of-1, and you could enter as many times as you wanted. I was only going to run it once because it costs roughly $20 to enter and I’m not some deluded grinder. Frankly, I just wanted the digital Godzilla lands that you got with your entry.
I managed to finish at 7-2 despite some pretty bad mistakes so I was pretty stoked about that. Day 2 was Best-of-3 and if you hit 6 or 7 wins you get actual cash. Spoiler alert, I almost instantly died on Day 2 but at least scraped out one win, netting me my entry fee back. Got the Godzilla lands, anyway!
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths has been a unique experience. The physical prerelease, of course, was cancelled (along with society at large) due to communist bioweapon Covid-19, so we’ve all been interacting with the set digitally. Definitely a bummer, as prereleases at my LGS are some of my favorite events throughout the year.
For me, the most exciting thing about Ikoria’s digital release had nothing to do with the set itself. For the first time, we got human draft tables on Magic Arena, which is huge. I did so many of these I lost count. The first couple weeks of the format were a blast, some of my multicolor piles reminded me of the halcyon days of Khans of Tarkir draft. Eventually people figured out the RW Cycling deck, though, so I’m kind of over it.
And that’s the thing: I’m over it. Like no other set I remember, I feel I have thoroughly explored Ikoria, especially in draft, and I already want to move on. I know that in every draft run I’m going to play against the Cycling deck (or I’ll be piloting it myself) and I’m just not interested. I don’t necessarily blame Ikoria itself. The circumstances of this whole Corona thing gave me the time on my hands to chew through the content way faster than I typically would have.
Moving on to Constructed: holy shit Companion sucks. It’s just awful. I don’t understand how anyone thought this was a good idea. They’ve already banned Lurrus in Legacy & Vintage and I have no idea why they didn’t include Modern & Pioneer – or, yes, even Standard. I think they should just go back in time and smother the entire mechanic in its crib. Working from home, I’ve been able to put on Twitch streams off to the side for background noise and Companions are everywhere. It’s simply incorrect not to play one if you’re trying to win. I’m seeing Modern Humans and Mono Green Tron decks play a Jegantha, the Wellspring just as a free something to do if circumstances line up. A guy won a MTGO Modern PTQ with a Blue-White Miracles deck that mise’d a Kaheera, the Orphanguard in an otherwise creatureless control deck. That’s stupid – and those are the inoffensive cases. Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Yorion, Sky Nomad are utterly toxic. WOTC needs to nut up and erase the whole sordid affair, somehow.