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 Post subject: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jan-28 9:15 am 
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Joined: 2008-May-04 6:05 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Wisconsin
Tolarian Academy is arguable the best land of all time, and if not the best, definitely top five. Now, I love artifacts and lots of mana to cast and activate them, but Tolarian Academy is a card, I feel, this format can do without. Don't go all berserk (as people seem to do when a card is brought into discussion) but I think this card needs to be further evaluated on how it effects the game. With the recent unbanning of Crucible, land destruction alone isn't enough to deal with an opposing Tolarian Academy. Crucible can be recurred with Academy Ruins and various other spells. It can be recurred by any basic Regrowth-like spell. Even graveyard hate sometimes isn't enough. The reuseable Reito Lantern is one way around it. I've seen people go as far as to include Rift Sweeper or Pull from Eternity just to make sure cards like Tolarian Academy don't stay out of the game for too long. One can easily defend his or her academy simply because of the advantage it gives them. So if the Academy can't be removed easily, why not try bashing in the face? It can happen, but the rest of the players are racing against an inevitable combo that will end the game, (whether it be Mind Over Matter, Palinchron, or other untapping shenanigans). Mass artifact removal is another option and I would say, from my experience, the most effective. However since so many decks rely on artifacts as a functional part of their deck, it doesn't necessarly gain you allies. On top of that, mass artifact removal is fairly rare in each color. Many of the decks I've seen run Roar of Reclaimation and Open the Vaults as a way to reccur multiple artifacts anyways so it also isn't always that effective. It is really an intricate process to knockout a player with a Tolarian Academy. I think it is time the EDH community discuss the power level of this card.


Last edited by American_Kid on 2010-Jan-28 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jan-28 9:22 am 

Joined: 2008-Aug-08 6:34 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Rouen, France
American_Kid wrote:
Tolarian Academy is arguable the best land of all time, and if not the best, definitely top five. Now, I love artifacts and lots of mana to cast and activate them, but Tolarian Academy is a card, I feel this format can do without. Don't go all berserk (as people seem to do when a card is brought into discussion) but I think this card needs to be further evaluated on how it effects the game.

With the recent unbanning of Crucible, land destruction alone isn't enough to deal with an opposing Tolarian Academy. Crucible can be recurred with Academy Ruins and various other spells. It can be recurred by any basic Regrowth-like spell. Even graveyard hate sometimes isn't enough. The reuseable Reito Lantern is one way around it. I've seen people go as far as to include Rift Sweeper or Pull from Eternity just to make sure cards like Tolarian Academy don't stay out of the game for too long. One can easily defend his or her academy simply because of the advantage it gives them.

So if the Academy can't be removed easily, why not try bashing in the face? It can happen, but the rest of the players are racing against an inevitable combo that will end the game, (whether it be Mind Over Matter, Palinchron, and other untapping shenanigans).

Mass artifact removal is another option and I would say the most effective. However since so many decks rely on artifacts and a functional part of the deck, it doesn't necessarly gain you allies. On top of that mass artifact removal is fairly rare in each color. Many of the decks I've seen run Roar of Reclaimation and Open the Vaults as a way to either reccur multiple artifacts anyways so it isn't always that effective.

It is really an intricate process to knock out a player with a Tolarian Academy.

I think it is time the EDH community discuss the power level of this card.


It's called Tolarian Academy, you say?

Hum, you may have something there. It does seem strong..... ah, yes, I knew what it was about the card that I don't like: I can't figure out if it's a mechanical spider or a funky window on the nearest tower.

Ban it, I say!

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jan-28 10:09 am 

Joined: 2008-Sep-22 8:04 am
Age: Drake
I think there's something to this argument.

Tolarian Academy is one of the best cards in the game for producing huge amounts of mana for little investment. Sure, you need to play a lot of artifacts...but Metalworker requires a much higher proportion of artifacts to be good, and he still got banned. Tolarian Academy is also much less fragile than Metalworker. I know I'd take Tolarian Academy over Metalworker any day, in any deck that could play both.

Tolarian Academy would be a very reasonable ban, in my opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jan-28 10:42 am 
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Age: Elder Dragon
Khymera wrote:
Metalworker requires a much higher proportion of artifacts to be good, and he still got banned.


I think an important difference between the two cards is that Metalworker can go in any deck that has enough artifacts and Tolarian Academy can only go in decks that include blue.

Of course, the academy is one of the reasons why blue-based general decks are quite strong. However, I think that that it represents a known danger and there are a variety of anti-artifact cards that can (and should) be played that help limit its power. Maybe after the next artifact block (rumored to the fall 2010 set), this should be revisited though.

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jan-28 11:11 am 
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Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Monmouth, OR
cheethorne wrote:
Khymera wrote:
Metalworker requires a much higher proportion of artifacts to be good, and he still got banned.


I think an important difference between the two cards is that Metalworker can go in any deck that has enough artifacts and Tolarian Academy can only go in decks that include blue.


This is quite bogus. Metalworker requires an extreme committment to artifacts, which usually means you're playing a blue deck. The only generals I could see being able to actually use Metalworker are Sharuum, Dagsson, and Karn.

Just because Metalworker is colorless doesn't mean it goes in every deck. The majority of EDH don't have enough artifacts to support playing him, and would rather be playing their artifacts instead of keeping them bottled up in their hand. When you run enough artifacts like the above three generals do, this drawback is obviously highly mitigated.

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jan-28 11:16 am 

Joined: 2008-Sep-22 8:04 am
Age: Drake
The only deck that usually plays enough artifacts to support Metalworker and does NOT play blue is Karn. Karn is not remotely broken. I assure you, Metalworker is much more restricted in the decks it fits in than Tolarian Academy is.

Academy is played in many more decks than Metalworker was ever played in,


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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jan-28 12:39 pm 
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Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Michigan
As much as I love my Tolarian Academy in my Sharuum deck, I'm going to have to agree. It's the card first tutored for, it's the card that allows the deck to do abusive things, and it's extremely hard to get rid of. Tolarian Academy turns otherwise powerful artifact decks into artifact decks that can just win on turn 4 or 5, without going infinite, though in some decks it makes going infinite a lot easier as well.

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jan-28 12:49 pm 
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Age: Dragon
Tolarian Academy is a strong card, but it is not too strong. Here's a couple reasons why:

1) It requires artifacts to even make any mana. I've seen a number of times where it's just a legendary Island with a different name, and usually it's only making 3-4 mana. While this is still a lot of mana, it's only mana. Mana doesn't win games (nor does it lose them anymore, given M10 rules). The reason that requirement of artifacts is such an issue is that every color except black (and if you're playing mono-black/any black, you've probably got Cabal Coffers, so quit complaining) has ways of dealing with artifacts, and even without Tolarian Academy, decks with those colors would still run those cards. Rack and Ruin, Return to Dust, Krosan Grip and any number of blue bounce and/or counter spells come to mind for spot removal, not to mention Shatterstorm, Purify, Reduce to Dreams, Fracturing Gust, and their ilk to deal with lots of artifacts.

2) While it can make tons of mana, it still only makes mana. That means that it requires something else in order to accomplish anything positive, which means that opposing players have an opportunity to deal with whatever issue. Just as the artifacts that empower Tolarian Academy can be dealt with, so can the permanents or spells being used to win with Academy.

3) It requires running blue, which means that if you're playing against it you can run some of the best color hosers ever. Boil, Red Elemental Blast, Sirroco, Seedtime, and tons of others. Not to mention Blood Moon and Back to Basics kicking it in the junk.

4) You should probably be running at least one Strip Mine/Wasteland/Ghost Quarter effect anyways, which means you should be able to deal with the Academy itself. In fact, usually when I see a Strip Mine used, it isn't targetting Academy because there's usually a bigger land to detonate.

5) It's just as easy to amass critters in a green deck to abuse Gaea's Cradle, and while it seems that blue should be a more dominant color, I've seen decks do waaaaaaaaaay more damage with critters + Cradle than Academy, and I've seen some pretty dickish Academy plays.

So, in my opinion, Academy is fine. It makes mana, which is fine. It doesn't say "you win the game". It requires other peices, all of which can be answered.

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jan-28 1:20 pm 
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Location: Wisconsin
To respond:

1. As I said in the topic statement, mass artifact removal isn't enough in most games to check the power of Tolarian Academy. Even if you cast a spell that destroys all artifacts you have to ask the following questions:
a. Do they have countermagic?
b. Do they have Roar of Reclaimation or Open the Vaults?
c. How does this effect the rest of the players on the field?
See, you can't just say, "oh mass artifact removal, problemed solved." There are many results of playing any spell in a game of multiplayer magic, and some carry more of an effect than others. Typically, cards that do things to all players are going to get a much greater response than single target spells. Plus cards like Rack and Ruin, Return to Dust, and the other respectable x-1 artifact removal spells are simply not enough. Removing a couple of artifacts will not stop the Academy's power.

2. Yes it makes mana, that is the problem. There are X amount of things someone can do with lots of blue mana. There are, however, few ways that someone can gain that mana so quickly and efficiently. Every artifact that player plays not only pumps Academy, it helps set up their board position and gives them many options on how to knock the other players out.

3. Boil is completely irrelevant once the Academy is in play. Even if they don't have Academy up, again you have to ask how it effects the rest of the players. Plus, most decks are not mono blue and hardly run that many islands anyways. Red Elemental Blast is a 1-1. Don't get me wrong, its a good card but it does relatively nothing other than stop a single blue spell or permanent when they are playing multiple spells per turn (some of which won't even be blue). This is also true for Sirocco. Lets assume they have 4 instants in there hand. That is 16 points of damage assuming they don't do anything about it. The question at hand would be, does life matter at the point Tolarian Academy is online? Seedtime is a respectable answer but what will the extra turn accomplish? Are you able, right then on that turn, to gain such an advantage, an advantage greater than the Academy is producing for your opponent? Finally Blood Moon and Back to Basics are cards that answer Academy, but I can guarentee you won't have many friends after playing such cards. Lots of decks run less than 10 basics lands and I think that 10 should be more like one of each of their general's colors if the General's colors are greater than three.

4. Heres the problem with Stripmine and the like. Crucible... See no matter when you Waste or Strip the Academy, they can recur it during their Main Phase. (If you wait until the main phase then you are doing them a favor.)

5. Gaea's Cradle is in no way a comparison to Tolaria Academy. GC is much less reliable because there are plenty of more Wrath effects available then their are mass artifact removal spells. And I'm sure Yawg would agree here, blue mana is more powerful than green mana.

In conclusion, Academy does not say win the game directly, but it is one the most efficient and consistant routes to winning the game. Any card can be answered, however some are so efficient and easily accessible/recurrable/abuseable that too many answers are needed in order to stop it.


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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jan-28 3:58 pm 
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American_Kid wrote:
To respond:

1. As I said in the topic statement, mass artifact removal isn't enough in most games to check the power of Tolarian Academy. Even if you cast a spell that destroys all artifacts you have to ask the following questions:
a. Do they have countermagic?
b. Do they have Roar of Reclaimation or Open the Vaults?
c. How does this effect the rest of the players on the field?
See, you can't just say, "oh mass artifact removal, problemed solved." There are many results of playing any spell in a game of multiplayer magic, and some carry more of an effect than others. Typically, cards that do things to all players are going to get a much greater response than single target spells. Plus cards like Rack and Ruin, Return to Dust, and the other respectable x-1 artifact removal spells are simply not enough. Removing a couple of artifacts will not stop the Academy's power.


If Academy is such a problem in a multiplayer game, more than just you will be going to try and stop it. Sure, they might have a counterspell or Open the Vaults, but you're not the only one fighting against that player, and chances are that at most tables someone else will be playing blue to have the similar counterspell option. If you're too worried about harming the other players in order to stop the Academy, maybe the Academy isn't that big an issue. When any card, be it Academy or Time Spiral or Decree of Pain is setting up to win a player the game or demolish all the others' boards, those players usually band together to stop it.

Furthermore, even if the Academy player plays an Open the Vaults after someone uses mass removal, chances are that using it has either denied them a decent part of their turn, or that all the other players are also going to be getting resources back.

Quote:
2. Yes it makes mana, that is the problem. There are X amount of things someone can do with lots of blue mana. There are, however, few ways that someone can gain that mana so quickly and efficiently. Every artifact that player plays not only pumps Academy, it helps set up their board position and gives them many options on how to knock the other players out.


There are also things that you can do with White, Blue, Black, Red, and Green mana. Chances are they're either A) not going to have Academy every game, or B) Have to spend time tutoring for it, which means that each other player (assuming it's multiplayer) has opportunities to do things themselves. Even with an Academy, games still don't end that early, which means that every player has time to set up and answer the Academy player.

Quote:
3. Boil is completely irrelevant once the Academy is in play. Even if they don't have Academy up, again you have to ask how it effects the rest of the players. Plus, most decks are not mono blue and hardly run that many islands anyways. Red Elemental Blast is a 1-1. Don't get me wrong, its a good card but it does relatively nothing other than stop a single blue spell or permanent when they are playing multiple spells per turn (some of which won't even be blue). This is also true for Sirocco. Lets assume they have 4 instants in there hand. That is 16 points of damage assuming they don't do anything about it. The question at hand would be, does life matter at the point Tolarian Academy is online? Seedtime is a respectable answer but what will the extra turn accomplish? Are you able, right then on that turn, to gain such an advantage, an advantage greater than the Academy is producing for your opponent? Finally Blood Moon and Back to Basics are cards that answer Academy, but I can guarentee you won't have many friends after playing such cards. Lots of decks run less than 10 basics lands and I think that 10 should be more like one of each of their general's colors if the General's colors are greater than three.


It's true that color hosers aren't the greatest answer, but they still are there.

Quote:
4. Heres the problem with Stripmine and the like. Crucible... See no matter when you Waste or Strip the Academy, they can recur it during their Main Phase. (If you wait until the main phase then you are doing them a favor.)


If Cruicible is such an issue, run some cards like Jester's Cap to eliminate stuff before it's an issue, or things like Ravenous Trap or Relic of Progenitus to deal with things in the yard (which, coincidentally, are good additions to most EDH decks).

Quote:
5. Gaea's Cradle is in no way a comparison to Tolaria Academy. GC is much less reliable because there are plenty of more Wrath effects available then their are mass artifact removal spells. And I'm sure Yawg would agree here, blue mana is more powerful than green mana.


It's true there are far more wrath effects for creatures, but I would venture that people play wrath effects for creatures and artifacts/enchantments in similar amounts in their decks.

Quote:
In conclusion, Academy does not say win the game directly, but it is one the most efficient and consistant routes to winning the game. Any card can be answered, however some are so efficient and easily accessible/recurrable/abuseable that too many answers are needed in order to stop it.


As I mentioned in this post, but failed to in my previous post, there are answers that completely remove Academy as an issue, such as Jester's Cap or Sowing Salt. If it's really that big a deal, which I posit it isn't, there are plenty of ideas for everyone to try before it is touched by the rules comittee.


Also, for reference, what is Academy used in conjuction with to win in your playgroup? Does someone have an Academy based combo deck, or Sharuum, or is it just a good card in blue decks that eventually beat down with critters?

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jan-28 4:09 pm 
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After talking with some people I have revised my position on the matter. I don't think Tolarian Academy warrants banning. I think a few factors contribute to the power that Tolarian Academy enjoys:

1. Players don't run enough artifact removal. I've seen time and time again that artifacts, and enchantments, go unanswered for long stretches, or fail to be answered at all. Playgroups need to realize that these two permanent types have the potential to do some serious damage if not dealt with. In short, run more artifact/enchantment hate, people!

2. Players don't run enough graveyard hate. You don't have to run a lot, but running one or two cards that can deal with problematic graveyard shenanigans is generally a good idea.

3. The decks that want Tolarian Academy are set up to maximize its use. Whether it be Sharuum, Arcum, Sens Triplets, or other artifact-themed decks, these decks are the ones where Tolarian Academy actually becomes ridiculous. It's probably okay that a card be ridiculous in certain themed decks.

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Teneb, the Harvester - Graveyard!
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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jan-28 4:40 pm 
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Just to be sure, I'm not saying the card should be banned in any way. I mainly bring this topic up as a reference point in terms of the power level of the cards we play with. In other words, how much does an Academy alter the game.

As for reference, I've mainly seen Tolarian Academy used as a way to either take infinite turns via Beacon of Tomorrows and Planar Portal, mixed with Future Sight and Top, Traumatize and Open the Vaults/Roar of Reclaimation, Memory Jar Shenanigans (this is probably my favorite), etc. See Jester's Cap doesn't always cut it with some of these guys because they will respond with Expeditioner's Map, find Pull from Eternity, Entomb it into the graveyard, etc. In other words the people I've played with go a long way to protect it from even library removal. So when you are dealing with multiple Academy's at one table, it becomes extremely difficult to handle.

The thing with an Academy is that it takes a lot to overcome it. It is not always possible for even two people to stop one player from getting it active. A proper build for a deck even semi-dedicated to Tolarian Academy should include cards like Entomb and Pull from Eternity as a way to answer flank removal options. I remember I played the Seek part of Hide//Seek and my opponent responded with Entomb, Tolarian Academy, next turn untap Crucible, Tolarian Academy, Mind Over Matter, make mana, Memory Jar, pitch it, blah blah blah. Believe me, that isn't just a one time thing, it happens regularily.

Again, to be certain my point is clear, I'm not trying to get this card banned, but it should be used as a reference point for the power level of cards in the best format. I'd really like to believe that Tolarian Academy is the line that either a card crosses or doesn't in terms of power. That is my opinion though.

EDIT:
Quote:
but Tolarian Academy is a card, I feel, this format can do without
and by that I meant that it wouldn't hurt if it was gone but it is fine that it is playable. I should have probably stated that more clearly.


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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jan-28 10:50 pm 
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Location: Madison, WI
I'm kind of torn on the subject, because I think Tolarian Academy is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy in decks that run it. Artifact removal, and especially mass-removal, is a crippler for a lot of decks that like running TA; many decks that would have an issue like this would respond by either boosting protection (i.e. counters) or diversifying (i.e. run less artifacts), but decks that run Tolarian Academy don't have the option as easily.

I remember when I shifted my general from Merieke control to Sharuum combo and finally added an Academy into the deck, three artifact lands joined them, along with most of the mana-acceleration artifacts. I took many of these out (especially the lands) of initial Merieke builds because of the commonness of artifact removal affecting my mana base. Now, however, the occasions where artifact lands are in play more than supplant the risk, simply because of Academy. (and a bit because of Tezerret being able to get them...) A TA-running deck loses much of the wavering room that you would normally expect, as diversification definitively affects the impact of the strongest land. (coming from someone who runs Workshop along with Academy)

The other thing I've seen is that an Academy is much less powerful from a non-combo perspective in multiplayer. It _is_ still the desired card to get for any deck that runs it, but if there are multiple players with a Tolarian strategy, you'll encounter Academy played as Strip Mine just as often as a Wasteland/Mine kill that Academy, and even a Crucible rarely helps.

The exception to all this is the combo turn play of an Academy, when that one activation nets 8-10 mana, if not more. No matter the counter-argument, this is the argument I would reasonably agree with to get rid of it. The one thing I want to make clear, though, is no one should be taking this argument to something like a comparison towards it and Gaea's Cradle. I've seen Cradles consistently make more mana than Academys when both are in play, but Cradle has a much narrower set of options for that mana, and at worst will turn the mana into an entwined Tooth and Nail that they probably could've cast anyways.

I guess I'm on a position, as someone who plays regularly with Academy, that I don't think it should be banned, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were.

Quote:
As for reference, I've mainly seen Tolarian Academy used as a way to either take infinite turns via Beacon of Tomorrows and Planar Portal, mixed with Future Sight and Top, Traumatize and Open the Vaults/Roar of Reclaimation, Memory Jar Shenanigans (this is probably my favorite), etc.


Sounds familiar :)

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jan-29 6:54 am 
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Honestly, as far as combos go, some of those don't seem amazingly insidious. Granted, Beacon + Planar Portal is a dick move, but that's where stuff like Wild Ricochet shines, as well as responding to the Portal activiation with something like Seek or Jester's Cap.

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 Post subject: Re: A Healthy Discussion on Tolarian Academy
AgePosted: 2010-Jan-29 7:42 am 

Joined: 2008-Aug-08 6:34 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Rouen, France
Ok, I'm going to be a little less trite this time around.

Honestly people, who here (apart from the OP) has been sitting contemplating the detrimental and warping effects of Tolarian Academy in the format?

Yes it is very strong. So is Gaea's Cradle (probably even moreso) and I don't see threads starting debating the potential for banning (because let's face it, that's what's happening right here) of the Cradle.

Who went to their last EDH night and sat across from Academy going "Hell no! That's gotta leave this format!"? Nothing has changed since the spoiling of Zendikar or WWK that warrents this consideration (though I accept that a set that's coming out in 9 months time may have the potential to cause us to reconsider it but until then, can't we just let it lie?)

I'm all for healthy discussion but this thread is a motor for a ban call on Academy. It's an attempt at scare-mongering and that's just wrong.

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