This is write up about moon effects, specifically Back to Basics, Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon. The argument for adding a point to Blood Moon and Back to Basics is one full of misunderstanding and confusion. Luke did a write up on his blog at highlander4eva.blogspot.com.au arguing why they shouldn’t be pointed, but even a quick read of his article hints at a strong justification for pointing moon effects. So I’m just going to take apart his argument one step at a time and use his own reasons to show why both Blood Moon and Back to Basics deserve a point.
Mulch: “Cramming your deck full of non-basics is a little like jaywalking; it gives you an edge over fellow pedestrians but if you don’t look for cops (Blood Moon and Back to Basics) down the street (metagame), you might get fined.”
So Blood Moon should not be pointed because it makes people play more basic lands? It keeps the format honest?
Let’s take a look at the results of the top players from the 12th Melbourne Highlander League
12th Melbourne Highlander League Standings (4 Rounds)
Now what stands out the most here is that two players care so little about blood moon that they are playing 2 or 3 basics.
Something that should be pointed out here is the player playing Blood Moon, Magus of the Moon and Back to Basics has 11 non basics in his deck and 13 basics . This is the player who has the dream of slamming Blood Moon and locking a player off their mana and that player is totally fine with 11 of his lands being mountains just to be able to destroy his opponent. This alone should show the huge bonus of moon effects.
Just by these numbers alone you can see that if Blood Moon’s job is to keep mana honest then it is really failing in its job. It’s like Blood Moon is a police officer that only fines pedestrians who are about to jaywalk in their first few years of life and when he fines them he sends them to jail for their entire life. If I hired someone to sort cards and I came into the store to find they had sorted them into piles in the doorway, I would fire that person from their job, and Blood Moon, you suck at doing what people claim is your job.
Now this is actually the reason it should be pointed and I will draw you back to this after taking apart a few more points made in Luke’s post.
Mulch: “The effect that Moon effects have when cast range from nothing to ‘cripples the opponent’s mana”
When Blood Moon is able to cripple someone’s mana it totally removes them from the game and they don’t get to play. That’s the problem here – saying it keeps the format honest isn’t true, we can see it really doesn’t do a lot. So it appears its job is to cripple people’s mana and give the caster a free win. Now this, it is very good at. Saying that sometimes it does nothing is like saying I can fire a gun down the street and sometimes it will miss and sometimes it will kill a human. How about we just don’t fire the gun that has the option to totally destroy the game?
Mulch: “Moon effects are also difficult to tutor for compared to creatures, lands and artifacts”
With three moon effects in your deck, in your opening hand and on the play there is a 28% chance to have it in your opening hand and a 30% chance of having it in your hand on the draw. Obviously decks that play moon effects are often cantrip heavy and will be seeing a significant further proportion of their deck before turn 3, further increasing the chances of casting Blood Moon on turn 3. Furthermore, simply playing the odds on having the card in your starting hand, there will be one in four games with no mulligan where you will open your hand.
That’s pretty good options for destroying your opponent since that is Blood Moon’s job.
Mulch: “How far do players need to go to play around moon effects?”
This statement is a reason to point it alone. How far does every single deck in the format need to go to interact with these cards that cost no points. Moon effects totally warp formats around them making every person build their deck around them – and they costs zero points!
Mulch: “Wasteland is a non-basic hate card which is pointed, that’s a precedent. However, Wasteland does not put the heavy restrictions on its player that moon effects do.”
Yes that’s right Wasteland doesn’t make everyone build their deck around it and it costs a point. My argument is almost being made for me. I totally agree, Wasteland costs 1 point, and it doesn’t make every single player build their deck a certain way.
So why is Blood Moon free?
Mulch: “B2B/Moons can be played around without restricting people’s deck options too much. B2B/Moons are only powerful when not played around”
Moon effects can’t be played around without restricting people’s deck options too much. People have to warp the way they play based on these cards, yet the cards are free and don’t cost a point. Effects this powerful and crippling need to be pointed. That won’t mean they’re gone, it will mean the players will need to pay for their powerful spells, which is more than fair!
Back to basics and blood moon are two cards that can absolutely destroy a game on their own and they should be pointed. It is important to note that sometimes pointing and bans in magic are not made in the interest of a diverse format but in the interest of creating a format people enjoy playing. Moon effects are miserable, they create an effect that causes new player to quit the format when they find out they’re completely locked out of the game. This is one of the most valid reasons why Reflector Mage was just banned in standard – it would ruin people’s enjoyment of the game. This is also what happened to the Sydney Highlander League, all the EDH players jumped into Highlander, got wrecked by moon effects and then quit playing the format. They didn’t ‘adapt’ like a veteran to this format may do they instead quit the format because it wasn’t fun.
Do we as players want moon effects to be free because we like to pretend it keeps people’s mana in check, or do we want the format to be healthy and grow? At the end of the day a vote for pointing moon effects doesn’t mean that you necessarily think they’re broken, but it is an acknowledgment that players need to pay to play with extremely powerful effects.