After the releases of DotP12 on the 15th of June, DotP13 on the 20th of June, and DotP14 on the 26th of June, it seems only logical to expect another version of that game on the third of July this year. With it will come plenty of new decks just waiting for Top Tier Tactics’ competent and faultless* guides. What should also be hoped for are some actual engine advances. Knowing that the game is still four months away and that Stainless is definitely NOT Ubisoft, what is the harm in trying to make them improve their game?
1. Basic lands? In competitive Magic? Away with you, scrub!
It’s fact, proven by many a deck as well as DotP itself; Triple colour decks (and occasionally dual colour, if there are demanding costs) and above do not work using only basic lands, especially if green is not in the deck. Yet the game seems to despise nonbasic lands like they literally killed its mother or something. Something about the concept of a single land tapping for more than one colour being too confusing to new players or such excuses.
Here’s your solution, Stainless: Make the game’s automatic tapping use nonbasic lands last whenever possible, and when they are used to pay something, make a mana symbol float over that land’s text box to indicate what colour you will get from the tap. That took five seconds to think up, you can’t claim that none of your design employees ever had that idea.
I’m not asking for a manabase entirely of shocklands for each deck (though offering a single shockland as a promo could go a long way towards teaching players about the game), but even just a few guild gates would do a lot for deck stability.
2. People have phases. The game has phases. Ogres have… phases?
As stands, DotP largely mishandles priority and phases. Unless there are any triggers, the game directly skips to your main phase (as opposed to giving an upkeep, wherein you could crack fetching permanents with the mana you previously untapped and then draw from a library with fewer lands in it) and the active player can progress through her turn rapidly without giving the nonactive player a chance to pause the game at a specific point. (Seems like a minor issue, but if for instance your opponent controls Basandra, Battle Seraph, a card available in DotP13, then they can progress into combat without giving you a chance to tap or unsummon any of their creatures.)
Fixing this would not be hard either: Just include a mandatory priority timer during each player’s upkeep (since there are few cards in DotP that act differently if cast in a draw step, it should not be necessaary to include priority during that step) and perhaps add a proper cleanup step indication to further clarify exactly when the end of turn is.
3. Better decks… actually, just more
This one is more for Wizards than Stainless. It’s certain that we will once again see the choices of “green underpowered stompy deck with which you will spend an hour trying to beat the tutorial boss” and “underrated titankiller red burn deck”. Since the only decks lacking from DotP14 were White Aggro and Izzet Control and the game was as such perfectly balanced, the only request for further decks is more of the same variety. Maybe a real reanimation deck, Grixis style, or a Jund deck that effectively ramps and drops giant flying lizards on people’s faces. Maybe a genuinely colourless deck? The possibilities would be endless, if we could rely on some proper mana fixing. (Hint hint.)
Okay, it has to be said: DotP14 is so vastly imbalanced that a large amount of decks has no chance to win against the select few, unless the select few have terrible draws or are played very poorly. There will always be predators lest there is no strength from absent comparison**, but this game is absurd. The well-rounded, balanced decks like Warsmith are fine and enjoyable, make more of those, nothing below that power level, but particularly none above it.
It should also be mentioned that I personally find DotP’s decks very fragile, so that they rely on the free seven-card mulligan even when built for consistency. Thus, a player rebuilding a similiar version of them on paper would see poor results. That much for teaching people the game. I would prefer not to see twenty of forty total unlocks consumed by high-cost bombs of which any deck could support at most five. What is wrong with giving us less splashy cards that actually make the deck work and allow for more preference?
Alternatively, just make another artifact deck, I’ll be just as happy.
4. Don’t attempt what you can’t do
Being a storywriter, I was excited to hear that DotP14 was going to feature a story and cutscenes. Only then to find out that the story literally consists of ten seconds of Elspeth musing over an animated drawing to plug Theros. Like, really? Really, Wizards? There are better ways to explain Elspeth being consumed by guilt because she fucked up Mirrodin, ones that don’t involve her landing face down in the mud next to some snake ladies. But I suppose you have to make some transitions to when, after crashing everybody’s party, Kitty Man takes her to that new non-Alara jungle plane to teach her the ways the worlds go.
What was I going on about? Oh right: If you are only going to end up with desperate money grabs, don’t make Sealed. Making decks is great, but why exactly do we have to pay to create a new deck, which makes for 90% of the fun in limited? We don’t get the paper versions, we can’t modify the cards in any way other than building decks in that very slot, and there’s no effort to you. Tell me, why couldn’t we just get four slots, and if we wanted another opening session, we just had to ditch one of our pools? I admit, I have paid for additional slots, but unlocking pixely cards that you will toss together only to be defeated by the hacker with 23 Brittle Effigies (or the immortal Izzet deck I built) is little satisfaction when it comes at the combined price of over three times the game’s original price! You know what I could do with that kind of money? Go do two REAL Sealed events, where I get to keep my cards and resell them for more per piece than I paid for the event!
* If you disagree with us, you are wrong. By definition.
** Just that I despise poetry does not mean I am incapable of it. Also, to quote a local expert: “Forest is unplayable in Standard right now.”