Magic: the Gathering
Analyzing the future of Alrund's Epiphany
With so much talk regarding Alrund's Epiphany and whether it should be banned or not, let's analyze how this card might have become an issue and if it deserves a ban.
I'm not surebecause there are many points where it's understandable to think about a possible ban, and there are also many points where it doesn't seem required. What I intend to elaborate in this article is an analysis of Standard's current situation, the space that Alrund's Epiphany decks have, the Metagame's behavior towards the card and the consequences of its banning or permanence in the format and, perhaps, at the end of it, I will be able to reach my personal conclusion after sharing this information and analysis with you.
Epiphany on Standard
How did an Extra Turn become an issue?
Mulldrifters, Baneslayers & Titans
Mulldrifters and Baneslayerstheory was created by
Patrick Chapin, and in summary it says that you have two categories of creatures that you should consider for your deck: Mulldrifters and Baneslayer Angels.
Titansafter the Magic 2011/2012's famous Titan Cycle:
Titansare cards that offer immediate value in the game
whileare also threats that can end the game in a few turns, and the Titans were a powerful cycle throughout all their time in Standard, and I truly believe they would still be relevant if they were reprinted today.
Should Alrund's Epiphany be Banned?
Mono-White Aggro. And looking at the numbers from the past fourteen days, it's true: Epiphany makes up about 35% of the Metagame, Mono-Green 28%, and Mono-White 10%, while the rest of the decks takes the other 27%, and this can and should be seen as a three-deck format, something that particularly doesn't seem to be a solution in this case, except to consider whether banning Alrund's Epiphany will really improve things, or if we'll just see the format polarize around another card: Esika's Chariot.
How long will Aggro be able to hold Epiphany decks?
Epiphany manages to adapt much better than the rest of the format.Compare it to Mono-Green Aggro, which lacks the means, versatility and slots to adapt to the answers of a tweaked format, making it relatively obsolete, an element we commonly see in Mono-Red in past seasons. For example, if you expect a Metagame with more creatures, what are your options? Increase the number of Inscription of Abundance or Devouring Tendrils? And when there are more removals? You have Snakeskin Veil as a form of protection and... That's it. Now consider Izzet Epiphany, which can have more counterspells, sweepers, threats, switch to Izzet Dragons, adjust to new variants like Grixis or Jeskai, use the right answers for the best deck of that week, and have much more accessibility and ease of making this for two reasons: 1) The package that defines its winconditions is composed of few cards, while each card from a more linear list like Mono-Green essentially works to win the game. 2) Its card selection package makes the archetype much more consistent in finding the necessary answers. And what is the only deck that could adapt as much as Epiphany with the right answers to every Metagame change? Midrange decks. And what are the best Midrange decks we would have in the format today? I've searched for several lists within this macro-archetype in Standard that have done some result, and particularly, except for Izzet Dragons, most of them look like a bunch of good cards that work poorly together, or a bunch of bad cards that try to make a good thing together. Mixing a Sacrifice subtheme with individually good cards is not a good strategy because the topdeck won't do you any good (and Midrange commonly take advantage that their topdeck is better than their opponent's after 1-for-1 exchanges). The Rakdos versions are a good start, but essentially, they are Creatures + Removals lists that only look good at the moment because two of the three most played archetypes are Aggro, and I can't imagine them having advantages against Control decks, even without Alrund's Epiphany. In other words, it's not just that the Midranges are pushed aside by Epiphany, it's also that the combinations for this strategy today include cards that don't seem to fit together to form a comprehensive strategy. The current non-Izzet midrange decks are clunky. And the fact that the best Midrange in the format is currently an Izzet deck doesn't have much to do with Alrund's Epiphany, but rather that the Izzet shell in the current Standard is very powerful and consistent, and creates just the right mix that a Midrange should have between efficient answers, card advantage and threats that need to be answered immediately. Because of that, even if the ban falls on Epiphany, I don't believe this situation will change, and the best Midrange will still be Izzet Dragons until we have better cards for other color combinations.
The Fun Factor
What I believe that should be done
wait and see how the format develops, especially considering that
Innistrad: Crimson Vowwill be released in just over a month, and it's possible that the format will change again with the new set's additions. On the other hand, as I mentioned earlier, Epiphany decks have a huge adaptability, and the possibility of them getting better as the Metagame develops is a real possibility, maybe even inevitable, and if Wizards anticipates the format cannot be healthy with Alrund's Epiphany because of this risk and the internal knowledge of what's planned for Crimson Vow, maybe banning it this week or next is an option. But if it's to announce Standard bans, I would totally prefer Wizards to do the right job and announce the cycle of necessary bans all at once, rather than solving just one problem and then thinking about solving another when it becomes evident there are other problematic cards. And when I mention problem cards, I'm saying that if Alrund's Epiphany gets banned, Esika's Chariot needs to leave as well because no matter how much people say there are answers to the artifact, it offers an absurd advantage and interacts too well with Wrenn and Seven and several other cards for us to consider it healthy to stay.
Wait the next few weeks to see how the format will develop. If there aren't any outrageous discrepancies in the coming weeks, we can wait until Crimson Vow's release, which comes out in just over a month, and watch again.2 —
If the situation escalates,Alrund's Epiphany
should be banned and, for the format's later health,Esika's Chariot
also needs to leave to make the format more diverse and fun.