My 5 Cents on… WUBR Partner Configurations

In honor of finally having “official” 4-color options, I’ve decided to give my pre-playtest opinions on the new 4-color Partner configurations.  I’ll start with how I think they work together and give them a score on Compatibility from 1(least) to 4 (most) with only one “4” being awarded, and a score on how likely I’d be to build them as a pair (1 = no, 2=unlikely, 3=possibly, 4=yes) with no gaurantees.

Note that additional card choices/deck context could improve compatibility, but I’m not going to go too deeply into that, though I may mention brief ideas.

The Non-green “theme” is “Artifacts”,  My current xG Tag-Team deck is Zedruu/Syg “Alt Wins“.

The Boss

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Would I play: 4, Since they didn’t want to give me a UR Artifacts Matter commander for this pile of “Thopters Matter’ cards I’ve had ready since Origins, I’ll happily add in a bit of white and black and just use this beauty. Definitely my favorite of the “true” 4-color commanders..

The Built-Ins

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= Both play well with artifacts, and Silas IS an artifact.
Compatibility: 4
Would I build: 3, it’s a kind of obvious build, though maybe I’d limit myself to only trinkets…

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= Double Strike on Silas means two triggers, which is good if you have mana to cast both things you target. I wish Silas looked at any graveyard
Compatibility: 3
Would I build: 1

The Friendlies

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= no real compatibility other than Ishai’s casting cost is actually nice with Vial Smasher.
Compatibility: 1
Would I play: 2 , If I had a non-artifact plan for these colors. They could swap with Zedruu/Sygg okay.

The Cross-Overs

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= No real connection, except Ravos buffs everyone .
Compatibility: 1
Would I build: 1

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= Both involve the words “life” and “draw cards”.  You get a bonus card if you hit for combat damage.
Compatibility: 2
Would I build: 2 I could maybe see them replacing Zedruu/Sygg

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=  Ravos Buffs Kraum, which is cool, and they both fly, so evasion?
Compatibility: 2
Would I play: 1

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= They both involve drawing cards. Kraum’s evasion means maybe a Tymna trigger.
Compatibility: 2.
Would I build: 1.

My 5 Cents on… WUBG Partner Configurations

In honor of finally having “official” 4-color options, I’ve decided to give my pre-playtest opinions on the new 4-color Partner configurations.  I’ll start with how I think they work together and give them a score on Compatibility from 1(least) to 4 (most) with only one “4” being awarded, and a score on how likely I’d be to build them as a pair (1 = no, 2=unlikely, 3=possibly, 4=yes) with no guarantees.

Note that additional card choices/deck context could improve compatibility, but I’m not going to go too deeply into that, though I may mention brief ideas.

The Non-red “theme” is “Growth”, which means a headache of +1/+1 counters.  My current xG tag-team theme is “Legendary Colors” with Zur and Sisay.

The Boss

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Would I play: 4, because I’ll probably build all of the “True” 4 colors, and this one is really good, but WHY DID THE 4-COLOR ANGEL HAVE TO BE THESE COLORS!

The Built-Ins

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= Ishai, might get bigger so Ikra might let you gain some more life.
Compatibility: 2
Would I build: 1

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= Both play with +1/+1 counters, and if Ishai has a counter on it, at least you won’t have earned it for naught if she goes to the Command Zone.
Compatibility: 4 but only because they fit more with the “growth” theme than Sidar/Silas.
Would I build: 3 , They’ll be the Built-in party ticket for Election.dec.

The Friendlies

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= Sure, Silas Renn can be harder to block.
Compatibility: 3
Would I play: 3 , but only because they will be Running Mates  on the Friendly ticket for Election.dec!

The Cross-Overs

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= No real interaction, other than Thrasios being card filtering, then again Ravos automatically works with any other creature (which is why he is the winner of best Partner).
Compatibility: 2
Would I build: 1

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= They both involve drawing cards, but not much overlap other than that.
Compatibility: 1
Would I build: 3, I think this is the X-over party ticket for Election.dec for ballot box manipulation and door-to-door canvassing.

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=  Kydele might help cast another Ravos.
Compatibility: 2
Would I play: 2.  They are dark-horse candidates for being on the Election.dec ticket.

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= If you can get through for some damage, Kydele is activated.
Compatibility: 3.
Would I build: 3, it might be nice to make an Agro deck with these… of course Melee is mostly a red ability, and that’s how I’d want to build the deck… or Blade of Selves and the old commander creatures that have the that ability

My 5 Cents on… WURG Partner Configurations

In honor of finally having “official” 4-color options, I’ve decided to give my pre-playtest opinions on the new 4-color Partner configurations.  I’ll start with how I think they work together and give them a score on Compatibility from 1(least) to 4 (most) with only one “4” being awarded, and a score on how likely I’d be to build them as a pair (1 = no, 2=unlikely, 3=possibly, 4=yes) with no gaurantees.

Note that additional card choices/deck context could improve compatibility, but I’m not going to go too deeply into that, though I may mention brief ideas.

The Non-Black “theme” is “Group Hug”, though thankfully the deck isn’t too hugg-y.  The current theme of my 4-color Tag Team is “Angels,” so not a lot of help here

The Bosses

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Would I play?: 3, but only because I’m sure I’ll build a ‘true’ 4 color deck with each of these generals.

The Built-Ins

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= Sidar encourages your opponents to attack, and to attack someone other than you, which triggers Ludevic for them.
Compatibility: 4 (but only because there must be a “4”)
Would I build: 2 (Maybe a pillow-fort with spell protection)

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= Both are on “theme”. Sidar encourages your opponents to play multiple cheap creatures in a turn, maybe?
Compatibility: 3
Would I build: 1

 

The Friendlies

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= no real interaction.
Compatibility: 1
Would I play: 1 (even with flying, I wouldn’t give this to the angel deck)

The Cross-Overs

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= Maybe you draw another artifact?
Compatibility: 2
Would I build: 1

636132853087696128+636128993995333186
= Maybe you draw something worth beefing up? .
Compatibility: 2
Would I build: 1

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= Artifacts cost colorless mana.
Compatibility: 2 
Would I play: 2.

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= Kydele can help you cast a big creature for Bruse to Buff.
Compatibility: 2.
Would I build: 2. This is the only combo that I would maybe put at the helm of the Angel deck.

My 5 Cents on… WBRG Partner Configurations

In honor of finally having “official” 4-color options, I’ve decided to give my pre-playtest opinions on the new 4-color Partner configurations.  I’ll start with how I think they work together and give them a score on Compatibility from 1(least) to 4 (most) with only one “4” awarded, and a score on how likely I’d be to build them as a pair (1 = no, 2=unlikely, 3=possibly, 4=yes) with no guarantees.

Note that additional card choices/deck context could improve compatibility, but I’m not going to go too deeply into that, though I may mention brief ideas.

The Non-blue “theme” is “ATTACK”.  My current non-blue tag-team is “Token Sacrifices” with Kresh and Hazezon.

The Boss

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Would I build: 2, I mean, probably a “3” but I don’t like having a commander that totally singles out one player. She might be fun in a “Curse” deck though, so yeah, okay, “3”.

The Built-Ins

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= Buff a trampler, get more opportunities at Saprolings that are Buff. Seems Good.
Compatibility: 4
Would I build: 4  This is very likely to replace Kresh/Hazezon in my current Tag-Team.

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= More things to attack with, means more things might get through.
Compatibility: 3
Would I build: 3 I don’t know if it would be much different than TanaRavos

The Friendlies

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= You’re playing small creatures, so Maybe that means you have mana for big other spells?
Compatibility: 1
Would I play: 1

The Cross-Overs

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= Akiri doesn’t get more toughness.
Compatibility: 2
Would I build: 1

636131750721891591+636129747427400381
= Putting Counters on Akiri seems decent.
Compatibility: 2
Would I build: 2

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=  Bruse targetting Ikra means 14-28 life. That’s crazy.
Compatibility: 3 
Would I play: 4. These two will probably get their own deck.

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= Reyhan will make things bigger, and bigger things with Double Strike is good.
Compatibility: 2.
Would I build: 2.

My 5 Cents on… UBRG Partner Configurations

In honor of finally having “official” 4-color options, I’ve decided to give my pre-playtest opinions on the new 4-color Partner configurations.  I’ll start with how I think they work together and give them a score on Compatibility from 1(least) to 4 (most) with only one “4” being awarded, and a score on how likely I’d be to build them as a pair (1 = no, 2=unlikely, 3=possibly, 4=yes) with no gaurantees.

Note that additional card choices/deck context could improve compatibility, but I’m not going to go too deeply into that, though I may mention brief ideas.

The Non-white “theme” is “Chaos”, though thankfully the deck isn’t full of a ton of standard red chaos cards.  My current xW Tag-Team is obviously Zombies (Jarad/Thraximundar), so there’s not a lot of help here.

The Boss

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Would I play: 3, becasue I’ll probably build all of the “True” 4 colors.

The Built-Ins

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= If you have non-spell means of drawing additional cards, Kydele could fuel a big first spell. If your mana is right, Kydele ensures at least 4 damage the turn after playing Vial.
Compatibility: 4
Would I build: 3

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= Thrasios gives you a better chance at drawing a big spell, or being able to play it (except for the high cost of his scry ability).  Vial’s randomness might also be a drawback.  Maybe play with some top-deck manipulation?
Compatibility: 3
Would I build: 4 (though I probably don’t need another Top-deck manipulation deck)

The Friendlies

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= If you attack with both of them, maybe they have to choose which one to block?
Compatibility: 2
Would I play: 3 , but only with ways to give them banding!

The Cross-Overs

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= They both benefit you for dealing combat damage, Ikra builds your life total, while Ludevic encourages others’ life total to go down.
Compatibility: 2
Would I build: 1

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= Kraum is aggressive, so maybe it triggers Ikra more easily.
Compatibility: 2
Would I build: 2

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=  Without context or other cards, no real interaction.
Compatibility: 1
Would I play: 4.  Context is King: Kraum’s Zombie-ness, and Reyhan’s “stuff-dying” means they’re  very strong candidates to take-over for Jarad/Thrax, who also play with Skullbriar, who LOVES Reyhan..

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= Another one that requires more cards to make any context.
Compatibility: 1.
Would I build: 1.

My 5 Cents on… Partner.

  1.  I’ve been using “Tag Team” generals to create my 4-color decks (which have not been featured here, since I couldn’t get enough people to let me play them) for quite a few years.   Partner is pretty close to that, except for the fact that they can both be in play at the same time. So that’s pretty cool. I was definitely not expecting this to be their solution though.
  2. I feel just a tiny bit slighted that they didn’t come up with more “true 4-color” or “4-color Identity” cards.  I know DFCs are expensive to print, so that’s excusable, but it didn’t seem like the Fate Reforged style “activation color’ generals would have been that tough to design.
  3. Partner is neat, though, because it means that there are lots of combination options, and not just for forming new 4-color decks.  I hope they continue to print Partner cards in the future.  Also, it’s incentive to buy all of the decks to maximize combinations.
  4. Partner and Soulbond would be cool. Partner and Meld would be super cool.
  5. Brothers Yamazaki should be errata-ed to have partner.

My 5-Cents On… Jace,

My 5-Cents On… Jace, and the Planeswalkers in general

Jace Batman President of Ravnica

Disclaimer:  I think that the Magic Creative team does excellent work, and a lot of it. In no way is this a criticism on their abilities.

  1. I think Jace is a boring character (despite efforts to make us care about him like his Origins story), so he as a protagonist is really hard to get behind for storytelling purposes.
  2. I think Jace is boring on Purpose:  Jace really seems like he’s the Bella Swan of Magic.  Bland and Every(white)mannish so that anyone (or at least the stereotypical Magic Player that Wizkids is trying to expand beyond) could say, “Jace is just like me.”
  3. I think Jace is meant to be a Wish-fullfilment, sorta Marty-Stu, -ish character. Why does Jace need to be the President of Ravnica, AND Innistrad’s Sherlock Holmes, AND a founding member and mental Batman of the (my apologies to Maro, who I do respect, but respectfully disagree with in this instance) Jace-tice League?  Because the player can then pretend that that’s them.  Good pyschology and marketing, bad for storytelling.
  4. I think it’s unfortunate that Jace is pushed because “Research says he’s the most Popular…”   I think that a decent part of why Jace is “the Most Popular” is because he’s been made to be high profile and the most seen. Jace is popular because of his prevalence, not the other way around.
  5. I don’t dislike Jace because he’s popular, or because of his cards or his popularity alone. This is something Maro tends to throw back at Jace non-enthusiasts: <paraphrased> “some people just like to hate on things because they are popular>.  I don’t like Jace because I don’t think he’s a good or interesting character.  It’s also not about his cards (I’d actually LIKE to see some Jace cards that are more Illusion based rather than: Standard Value Control Engines).

Granted some of this bitterness stems from two main events.

A.  The utterly crushing disappointment of the ending of the Return to Ravnica block storyline.

  • Returning to one of the most excellently built worlds in fantasy gaming? — Great!.
  • Catching up with the awesome characters on that setting?  —GREAT! (I mean, I’d have no complaints with Teysa being the face of magic).
  • There’s a secret mystery hidden at the end of a mystical maze and it’s so awesome and amazing that it’s even got Niv-Mizzet exited? — I. AM. STOKED!… what is it going to be? is it a PW spark? some sort of cosmic power to defeat Bolas? is a Bolas trap? I am so excited.
  • There’s going to be a super Olympics to see which guild gets the prize, AND IT’S COMPETITORS ARE ALL AWESOME LEGENDARY CREATURES FROM THE GUILDS.—-OMFG1!@#$@#$@!#$@$ MIND IS BLOWNTHISISTHEGREATESTSTORYEVERWHATISITGOINGTOBEAAAAAHHHHHHH******
  • THE PRIZE IS!!!!!!: …. non-Ravnican Jace is now the President of Ravnica?  fuuuuuu……….

B: Having Innistrad 2, a set I wasn’t excited for at first, be a really awesome pseudo-victorian mystery set, but having Jace be the Sherlock Holmes instead of a cool Innistradi Legendary Creature.

How to fix the problem:

  1. Do something to make Jace actually interesting:  was I the only one that picked up on some non-izzet chemistry with a certain izzet-allied plansewalker?  That would be a bold character choice for a “flagship” character.
  2. Don’t just jam Jace into every Protagonist Role. Granted, he’s not the only face character, and they have been making Gideon into a bit of the Muscle Batman, or having other characters share the spotlight, but really it seems like Jace is the Main Main character.
  3. Bring Back Gerrard…nah, he was only slightly less boring, while being the least interesting member of his team.

My 5 Cents on… the 1/17/2016 Rules Updates

I don’t normally comment on rulings updates. The only times they’ve really ever bugged me were when they Banned Tolarian Academy the week after I started playing EDH (which was a corner-stone of my Kangee Deck and my Niv-Mizzet deck) and when they Bannned Emrakul right after I bought one for my Brother as a Christmas present (And we just house ruled her to be legal when we play together).

This most recent set bugs me though, so I thought I’d vent here.

  1. The Mulligan Rule Change  (now it’s Vancouver instead of Paris): Doesn’t bother me, since I never did Partial Hand Sculpting.  I will continue to mulligan as I always have: Draw 7. If it’s not playable (at least 3 lands or 2 lands and something that could be cast by turn 3) check the top card, and if it’s  not a land, Shuffle and repeat.  I don’t Sculpt. I look at lands and for a playable card.  I’ve kept 6 land hands because of this. I don’t care if other people want to sculpt scry or whatever.
  2. The Mana Color Generation Rule Change:  I think it’s a flavor fail and it waters down the color-identity rules a bit.  Kozilek-Mana (cards requiring colorless costs) are not going to be that prevalent beyond this one set.
  3. I fear that the Mana Color Generation rule change is going to lead down the Slippery Slope that MaRo is in favor of: letting hybrid cards into decks where they don’t belong.
  4. Prophet of Kruphix Banning: is dumb.  There are far worse cards out there (which I don’t think deserve banning) like Praetors, Consecrated Sphinx, Deadeye Navigator, Skittles, the new Eldrazi that mills 2 when a player land-falls.  Not a hard card to deal with either (2/3, not huge like Prime Time or Sylvan Primordial, and she didn’t hurt other players ability to play the game (like Sylvan Primordial, or Iona) or give them direct consequences to their actions. Most importantly she was a budget replacement (with less playabilty) for Seedborn Muse, who:
    1. Costs over $10
    2. Is playable in 12 deck combinations (instead of 5)
    3. Untaps artifacts  (and the usually less relevant, Planeswalkers and Enchantments) too.
    4. Is harder to Kill
    5. Is easier to Cast.

    And the art on the card was really cool.

  5. Henceforth, in all of my decks that run a Prophet of Kruphix, I am now considering her to be a Proxy for Seedborn Muse. I only have one or 2 Muses (and they’re in non-blue decks) and I can’t affort to buy more Seedborn’s to replace the Prophets that I have in my UG decks, and I don’t feel like digging them all out and looking for other replacements.

So that’s that. I see the the first two changes as more WotC’s normalizing influence (Which has other slippery slope implications) but the banning was just dumb.

My Five Cents On…. The Origins 5 Band.

MaRo Recently gave a line up for “What if the Origins 5 Started a Band”

He listed:

Chandra: Drums
Jace: Lead vocals
Gideon: Lead guitar
Liliana: Bass
Nissa: Keyboard

I’m going to disagree with at least 3 of those choices.

whole band 1

Chandra would indeed play drums. She’s crazy enough, and I could see her being the “Animal” of the group. chandra

 

Jace would definitely be the Lead Vocalist.  There’s no way Wizards would NOT have him be the “Face” of the band, or the one that everyone is going to think is in charge of things.  Also his powers line up: he doesn’t actually do anything, he just thinks he’s important.

jace

Gideon would NOT be the Lead Guitar player.  1. Lead guitarists do solos and they don’t actually Lead the band.  2. He ALWAYS has 4 Strings on him. He would be the bassist, being the rock holding the band together.

gidoen

Liliana would NOT be the bassist. She wants credit and attention WAY too much to be a supporting player.  I’ve seen other people argue that she’d be the Lead Singer for that reason, but think about it: has anyone EVER sold her soul to the devil for better singing skills? NO.  She is clearly the lead guitarist (and she shreds a guitar made from the skull of an actual demon).

lili2

Finally, Nissa would NOT play keyboard.  She wouldn’t play any electric/synthesized instruments.  She’d be the rhythm guitarist, adding harmony vocals, and giving the music shape. And she’d do it on an acoustic guitar that’s actually a Wood Elemental.

nissa1

 

 

And they’d totally play a show Live at the Thespians Stage (and all the Rakdos Guild in attendance would make Ravnica the next Altamount)

onstage

My Five Cents On… Color Faction Names.

<Scene: An LGS Near You>

New Magic Player (Citadel Castellan):  Wow, Magic is a cool game. Five Colors, each with it’s own philosophy and play-style.  I like Blue for its emphasis on knowledge (Oh Jace… he’s so Dreamy… and just exactly like me), but Red really gets the job done.  I think I will make a “Blue-Red” deck.

Less New Magic Player (Hazduhr): Oh, we’re not supposed to call it a “Blue-Red” deck.

Castellan: Okay, “Red-Blue” then.

Hazduhr: No, that won’t work either. They have special names you’re supposed to use.

Castellan: Well, if it’s not “Red-Blue or “Blue- Red”, What is it?

Hazduhr: Yes.

Castellan: Yes It’s what?

Hazduhr: Izzet!

Castellan: That’s want to know (I’m a Blue Mage). What is it?

Hazduhr: Exactly!

Castellan: Now I’m getting Angry (I’m a Red Mage). You’re not messing around with me, are you?

Hazduhr: RU? That’s not okay either.

Castellan: Am I? I’m not the one doing anything wrong here. You are!

Hazduhr: UR? Not okay. Izzet!

Castellan: No. It’s not okay. I asked a simple question, and you’ve given me nothing but lip. I quit this game. Get bent!

Hazduhr: Bant? that’s three colors…

<Scene>

First, let me say, that I LOVE the flavor of the different factions. I thought Ravnica was amazing with the Guilds expressing one aspect of the color-pairs, and I was overjoyed with Tarkir as one expression of the Wedges.  I think that’s GREAT and I want to see more creative expressions of the color groupings.

What I don’t like is that the Faction Names have been mandated as non-flavor expressions of those colors. Here’s why:

  1. The Color Pie is great, and the 5 Colors of Magic are important.  And by not naming them when they are combined, it’s saying they’re not to be in the forefront.
  2. The Flavor of the Guilds and Shards and Khanates/Dragonates aren’t the only expressions of those colors, and therefore limit new creative exploration. If we continuously hear those terms they will become the important and default ones and we will more highly value them.  It’s like the Availabilty Heuristic in action.
  3. It is confusing/unclear to people who don’t care about flavor. Magic has enough terminology that I don’t see how adding 20 more terms to describe something that could more easily be communicated using combinations of 5 terms that are the fundamental core of the game is helpful.
  4. It is confusing/unclear to people who DO care about flavor.  I hate when I see a deck posted as “Jeskai” Control and there’s not a single Monk or creature with Prowess in it at all. I like that Khanate a lot so I get excited when it seems like it’s getting some play, but then the deck just happens to be nothing but RWU.  Does a “Temur” Delver deck even have any Temur cards in it?
  5. The Slippery Slope:  now that they’re “doubling down” on (humanoid, easily castable for screen and stage) Planeswalkers’ stories,  I fear the day when the colors get permanently “branded” with the walkers.   “The final round  of the Pro Tour featuring [Some Pro] piloting her ‘Chandra Deck Wins‘  vs [Some Pro] and her ‘Gideon Weenie‘”  or  “This is an Island.  It taps for one “Jace” mana in a game of Jace: the Jacening.”    Okay, it’s not that bad (and that’s the topic for another chunk of change).