Magic: the Gathering
By Thiago, 05/28/20
Mind Twistwas banned, to see that I was wrong. After that, we only had bannings of "not so normal" cards like
Shahrazadin 2007 and the Conspiracy-type cards in 2014.
A) Consistency:The cards inside your deck are not 100% accessible. In order to use them, the player has to draw or tutor them through the effect of other spells. On the other hand, Companions are 100% guaranteed to be played, with the mana cost being the only limitation. Always having access to synergies or a possible combo piece brings an exaggerated consistency to the game;
B) Card Advantage:Playing a Companion means starting the game with access to 8 cards. A player without a Companion already starts the game at a 1-card disadvantage;
C) Evasion:The Companion is not in your hand, nor on your deck, nor in your graveyard. It is "protected" inside your sideboard. This greatly limits your opponent's ways of interacting with it;
D) Repeatability:Always having access to a card causes it to be cast much more often than others and certain play-patterns (example:
Lurrus of the Dream-Denfollowed by
Mishra's Bauble) are executed more frequently. Now let's see some possible changes for the mechanic:
1) Ban all CompanionsAlthough this is neither a way to fix the mechanic nor a reasonable measure to solve the problem, I saw many comments on the internet asking for this. So, I decided to start here. Not even the worst mechanics in MTG's history have caused all cards that used them to be banned in all Constructed formats. I leave here the lists made by Saffron Olive, from MTGGoldfish, and Brain DeMars, from Channel Fireball, for those who want to check it out.
2) Ban the Companion mechanicThis was the suggestion that I most read through the Whatsapp groups and subreddits related to Modern and Legacy. It is understandable, since the Companions homogenized both formats and we already had 2 Companions banned from Legacy. However, I still don't consider it a reasonable option. Banning the mechanic would leave the vast majority of Companions to be unplayable in competitive MTG. It also breaks the trust between buyers and WotC in a similar way that the one mentioned in the topic above. And this article is about saving the Companions. I cannot say that the only way to save the Companions is to remove “the Companion inside them”, because from then on, they would no longer be Companions. That would be a huge
3) The player has to choose between a 15-card sideboard or a 1-card sideboard that is the CompanionThis eliminates an important aspect of competitive MTG: sideboard strategies. It also aggravates the problem of
repeatability, since the deck will be the same in every single match. Long story short, this change only hides the problem by making the decks worse, but it doesn't actually solve it.
4) Once the Companion is revealed, the player can no longer use the rest of the sideboardFor the same reasons mentioned in topic 3, I do not consider this a good solution. Also, in my opinion this change makes the mechanic complicated in a way that might lead to logistics problems during tournaments with a large number of players, such as GPs.
5) A player who uses a Companion already starts the game in a mulligan for 6So, the player has already to put 1 card at the bottom of their deck, and this number increases for subsequent mulligans. This solution is interesting because it solves the
card advantageproblem. However, there is still the problem of always having access to the same card. And the Companion remains protected from interaction by the opponent.
6) A player who reveals a Companion has to exchange a card from their hand for itSo, as soon as the player finishes the mulligans and puts the X cards at the bottom of their deck, they will have to choose a card from their hand to go to the sideboard and put the Companion in their hand. This change solves the
evasionproblems, and also mitigates the deck's
consistency, since now the card is no longer “protected” in the sideboard. The issue with
repeatabilityremains present, however it is slightly reduced because as the card is no longer shielded from the opponent's interactions, the number of times it will be cast slightly decreases .
ConclusionThe problems of
consistencyare intrinsic to Companion's mechanic. None of the proposed changes managed to fully address these issues. However, the proposed change in option 6 was able to improve the mechanic in its fairness, reducing these two mentioned problems and also eliminating the
evasionones. If I were to bet on what change we will see next Monday, I would go on that.