I mean, this was bound to happen right? Drizzt was introduced to the game just under three weeks ago and that time has seen the metagame become completely warped by the presence of Dungeons and Dragons’ iconic character. If you sat down to play 10 rounds of Spellslingers lately, odds are at least five of them would be against Drizzt. Heck, if I sat down to play 10 rounds of Spellslingers lately, outside of finishing my quests, I would pretty much exclusively play Drizzt.

And why not? The deck is incredibly powerful with access to one of the game’s strongest removal effects in Grudge Match and best traps in Giant Growth, not to mention the abundance of efficiently-costed creatures like Watchwolf on top of being able to splash legendary creatures of any color. Games felt more like matches of Pokemon and Magic sometimes, where the right opening combination could create a completely insurmountable game state.

But all things come to an end, as Ashiok likes to say when you spam that GG button. Today Drizzt is getting hit hard by a balance update, harder than either Liliana or Ral when they were the dominant ‘slingers just a few weeks ago. Ultimately this is a good thing. There are a ton of choices for Spellslinger in the game, with more to come, and the game is definitely healthier when tier lists aren’t shaped like a pyramid.

I’m going to dive into the specific changes in a moment, but overall I think this is a slightly heavy-handed change, which could have the unexpected effect of impacting the effectiveness of a few other Spellslingers, not just Drizzt. I don’t know that these were all necessary and the first two alone should have been enough to even out the playing field. But we’ll see what happens when the dust settles. Either way I’m looking forward to getting to spend more time playing Kaya, my original favorite.

Guenhwyvar Loses Trample

A picture of the new version of the Spellslingers card Guenhwyvar. This card costs one mana and has one power and two toughness. Whenever it attacks, it gains one power permanently. It can't trigger traps.

This was one of the most common ideas floating around the Spellslingers community in the past few days. As it became abundantly clear something needed to be done to address Drizzt’s spot in the metagame, all eyes turned to Guenhwyvar, the astral black panther companion of our hero. Dropping trample makes a lot of sense in scaling down Drizzt’s power levels. Decks that go wide like Kaya, Liliana, Gideon, Ajani, or Chandra should be able to use chump blockers against the panther and commit more resources to dealing with the abundance of Legendary threats in Drizzt decks.

It’s likely that this change alone would have allowed more competition with Drizzt, but Wizards of the Coast didn’t stop there. They made it clear that no single Planeswalker, or even a small group, is going to be able to stay on top by themselves for long.

Defend with Twinkle/Strike with Icingdeath Cost Increased from 2 to 3

A picture of the Spellslingers cards Defend with Twinkle and Strike with Icingdeath. The cards are side-by-side. Defend with Twinkle is a spell that costs three mana. It gives one of your friendly creatures the ward ability as well as two toughness. It puts a copy of Strike with Icingdeath into your hand. Strike with Icingdeath is also a spell that costs three mana. It has the ability to stun an enemy creature, and give one of your friendly creature's a bonus of two power.

This change also makes a ton of sense. Being able to cast both sides of this spell when you hit four mana was one of those ridiculous openings I talked about earlier, often allowing a Drizzt player to make a massive swing in life totals, give their key legendary creature +2/+2 and Ward (possibly the best effect in the game), and clear the path for dealing damage. Forcing Drizzt players to commit this combo to two turns, or at least waiting until turn six to pull out the one-two punch, should significantly slow down the countdown clock that most of the Drizzt decks were operating under.

I think these changes, at this point, would have made a much more even playing field. However, there’s still two more changes coming. These are not to Drizzt-specific cards but certainly will affect Drizzt significantly. However, whenever a King dies there will be many to take their place, and I think the next two changes are also trying to address the new metagame, and get ahead of what Wizards saw as the next potential dominant Spellslinger.

Deep-Forest Arena’s Effect Reduced from +2/+2 to +1/+1

A picture of the Spellslingers card Deep-Forest Arena. This is a land card. It has the ability, starting on turn five, to have a thirty percent chance to give the first creature you play that turn an additional one power and toughness as well as the ward ability. If this effect triggers you do not gain a mana gem this turn.

Right after Drizzt was released you could see a lot of different takes on which land to run with his deck. The Yawning Portal with its free Legendary creatures was very popular, but I also saw variants using Training Yard to go wide with free creatures and Gaea’s Cradle to pump out the high-end legends. But, by the third week of the meta dominance it was clear that Deep-Forest Arena was not just good for Drizzt, but also good for Nissa, Ajani, Vraska and most importantly, Domri.

I think this change is partly about making sure Drizzt decks no longer dominate the game so thoroughly but also trying to get ahead of Domri or Vraska taking up a similar mantle. Ward is an incredibly powerful effect. Rendering most of your opponents ability to interact with your creatures is a great path to victory which is why Ward is often an expensive effect to get. Getting it for free off of Deep-Forest Arena, is very valuable. The change to the P/T bonus is certainly going to effect every green Spellslinger, but I think Ward may still bring a lot of value to them as well, especially in match-ups with removal-heavy decks.

For Drizzt decks though, the drop from +2/+2 to +1/+1 is very significant because of the density of legends getting bigger. I would consistently get great dividends by combining this effect with Yeenoghu, whose trample and haste put the bonus to work immediately. This effect is also great with the last card on our list of balance adjustments.

Inferno’s Toughness Reduced from 3 to 2

A picture of the Spellslingers card Inferno. This is a red creature card with the Dragon type. It has the flying and haste abilities. It has two power and two toughness and costs four mana. When it attacks, you gain a random artifact with mana cost equal to Inferno's power. That artifact enters play with only one charge.

Okay, fair. Inferno is very powerful and seeing play in most any red deck that has the ability to increase his power which is all of them. Getting artifacts for free is amazing. Combining Inferno with Deep-Forest Arena is even more amazing. I truly believe this effect, while obviously primarily focused on Drizzt, is also meant to ensure that Domri decks are somewhat kept in check. I don’t think this change would be made without Drizzt putting Inferno under the spotlight, but I’m also not too upset by this change.

Final Thoughts

Play removal effects that get around ward. Traps are great for this, and I’ve already seen more of Immolating Glare and Envenom this week. I would also expect to see more Pyroclasm and Infest effects seeing play as well. Outside of Drizzt dropping out of the spotlight, it’s hard to predict what the new metagame will look like. Will Drizzt share the top tier with Vraska and Domri? Will go-wide strategies rise higher? Will anyone decide to play Teferi? We’ll find out.

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