Standard Alternatives – The Best/Worst Game

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Hi Magic people. Not so long ago I wrote about some surprise bans in Standard that took out some nasty, oppressive tech. It was the most recent in an unprecedented swath of bans that had echoes felt across the formats. Oko, Thief of Crowns, Once Upon a Time, Veil of Summer, Field of the Dead and some others have been banned in multiple formats. It’s not just Standard, but Standard feels it the worst.

Today, Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath paid the price for a Standard environment that was completed messed up just a week into rotation. Uro lives in a lot of decks, including in older formats, but the deck in question that was the plague of Standard also included Lotus Cobra and Omnath, Locus of Creation, both of which are of great concern to the Magic community. Some even think we’ll need to ban again, possibly immediately, which might even mean next Monday. Or sooner.

I woke up today expecting Omnath to be banned as well, because I feel like it’s going to happen pretty soon anyway. This past weekend, my roommate and I began opening a box of Zendikar Rising that we split on. I’ll have a full box breakdown once we finish opening it, but I’m the lucky one who pulled an Omnath. Woohoo? I mean, what exactly do I do with a card like this? I don’t really play Standard, and if I did, would need 3 more copies. Plus the whole ban thing. Not really an investment I’d like to make.

From a Commander standpoint, I could build around it, but I feel like it’s either going to be a clunkier version of an existing Omnath, or some completely dominant that I could play with nothing but Basic Lands, Landfall enablers, and cards like Explosive Vegetation. Poor Explosive Veg. It’s been completely outclassed by stuff like Circuitous Route and Vastwood Surge. But in Omnath, it’s yet another cluster of triggers. I’m going to figure out some angle of building around Omnath that’s not a groan-inducer, but until then, I wanted to share with you some of the ways my roommate and I have fun with the packs we open.

Wizards personnel developed a few games to play with Set Boosters that we’ve been doing for a while, and you can find them here. For us, the highlights are drafting when we’ve got the time and people, playing ‘Pai Gow’ by breaking down the packs into 3 card clusters and pitting them against each other, and shuffling the pack and treating it as a minideck. We use the same sets of Lands that we have for our Battleboxes for the last one. Mine are one of each basic, plus a set of 5 ETBtapped allied-colour dual lands, like Boros Guildgate or Tranquil Expanse. As long as your cards don’t favour Gates or Snow or something like that, you can use those Lands for fun variety.

One of the games suggested in the above link inspired a more fleshed-out version that we played the other night to great success. I even put together a new Battlebox of sorts to play it more often. As a non-MtG game comparison, it’s like Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity in a lot of ways. I’m calling it the Best/Worst Game, but I claim no originality here.

You need at least 3 players, with 1D6 and 2D10 optional. You can make do without the dice by just going down the list, or choosing your favourites. Players each open a pack of cards, then take turns being the judge. The judge rolls on the Best/Worst table with the D6, and on the 1-100 table with the 2D10s. Each player then selects the card from their pack that they feel most suits the category, for example ‘Best Country Song Title’ or ‘Most Offensive Slogan for a Rom-Com’ and the judge selects the one they like. As in the games like Apples to Apples, knowing the judge on a personal level, and how they think, is key to winning. But it’s mostly about the funny stuff, such as when the ‘Best Country Song Title’ is Dauntless Survivor and ‘Most Offensive Slogan for a Rom-Com’ is Reclaim the Wastes. Awesome. Then the player to the left becomes the next judge. The dregs of the pack are either going to be totally blah or the best laughs of all.

I went through a big box of chaff that I had kicking around for a stack of cards to use as the Best/Worst Battlebox. There’s some pretty good potential there, including cards like Garbage Fire, Crawling Sensation, Deviant Glee, Last Kiss, Tragic Poet and Bone Saw. I’m sure you can find lots of silly card names in your collection, too. Stinkdrinker Bandit isn’t just for that Rogue deck! I don’t plan to post a definitive list unless there’s a ton of demand, and will probably just rotate a lot of cards through. It definitely finds a new dimension of value among the chaff. I’m also working on another 1-100, which I’ll post when ready.

Give the Best/Worst Game a try the next time you have some friends over and some packs to open. Or grab a pile of old cards, filter out the ones that are very set-specific, unfunny, or just too strange. It’s a great way to get yourself some much-needed laughs! Thanks for reading. Your life matters! Black Lives Matter!

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