Life comes at you fast. These days bring a deluge. From real life to the Magic world, events zoom by in quick succession before we can process their meaning. The human mind learns by recognizing patterns, adjusting for differences, and learning from our collective experience. When we are overloaded by change and chaos, our ability to adapt becomes frozen. We must focus on each day, moving forward, struggling to get through the rapids to calmer waters.
Magic has been busy, busy, busy lately. Aether Revolt came, shaking up a lively Kaladesh draft and banning old Standard threats while unleashing dominance from an accidental combo and the only deck equipped to beat it. Modern Masters 2017 dropped in the middle of this, diverting us with a fun cube-like draft set that came up short on meeting the depth of archetypes that distinguished the previous two Modern Masters sets. And now we have Amonkhet bursting forth—the prerelease is this weekend, and we get new bans on Monday. Will Felidar Guardian still be around in Standard? How many Gideons will be too many for a sixty-card deck? Has Miracles finally earned a ban in Legacy? Is Street Wraith a little too good with Death’s Shadow in Modern? Will we have unexpected changes? Maybe an unban?
It’s too much. That’s not a problem with Magic design, exactly. Sometimes thing happen fast. Adjusting Standard rotations and adding a new block each year will cause serious flux. We should relax and embrace the ride. Constant change is Magic’s secret strength. If you don’t like today’s limited or constructed format, wait a few months. Aether Revolt draft got a bit stale, but Amonkhet promises a fresh new environment. Modern Masters 2017 doesn’t warrant twenty drafts, but only the most dedicated online drafters even had a chance to play that many. I had a great time doing two drafts with friends—who doesn’t love playing three Mist Ravens into Craterhoof Behemoth, or Sphinx’s Revelation into Cruel Ultimatum? I’ve got one more friendly draft scheduled Friday before a weekend of Amonkhet prereleasing. I’m excited.
But what if you want to master the game as it comes? The last few months have been tough for maximizing strategic depth. Right now we have to think quick on our feet. The Amonkhet spoiler has been out for a week, but how can we start brewing new Standard decks without knowing what cards will be legal. Do you start assuming that Felidar Guardian will be banned? Do any new cards put up much fight if the copy-cat sticks around? Can we hang our hopes on Manglehorn? Will green ever stop getting better? Is blue back with a vengeance? It’s a shame that Torrential Gearhulk doesn’t help you double up on Pull from Tomorrow, but I bet they’ll get along well enough anyway.
For now, focus on the Amonkhet prerelease. These weekends are some of the best for Magic. Head out to your local store and mess around with the new cards. It’s nice to win some prize packs, but embrace the experience without worrying too much about what strategies are best. Amonkhet Limited looks slow enough that you have time to explore your deck. Go for the fun cards. Try something different. Magic is all about new experience. When they come fast, you have to relax and take it all in. Soon enough we’ll have time to sit back and evaluate what we’ve seen. A month from now we’ll be watching Pro Tour Amonkhet and marveling at the newest professional innovations. Perhaps we can be absorbed, for a moment, with the joy of discovery and escape.
Brendan McNamara (MTGO: eestlinc, Twitter: @brendanistan) used to play Magic in the old days. His favorite combo was Armageddon plus Zuran Orb. After running out of money to buy cards and friends who were willing to put up with that combo, he left the game. But like disco, he was bound to come back eventually. Now he’s a lawyer by day and a Dimir agent by night.