Soft and Hard Hate Card
《Confounding Conundrum》 is my preview card from Zendikar Rising, and it is a well-designed one, bringing to table something we rarely see: a low-risk answer to land acceleration. This would have come in handy in recent formats, and it is an important tool to have in my mind in Zendikar of all places (maybe a variation of landfall and enablers are coming back?).
I envision it playing a role in constructed formats and leading to more fun, interactive games of Magic.
《Confounding Conundrum》 is what we call a “soft” hate card in most scenarios. Your opponent’s 《Explore》s, 《Growth Spiral》s and 《Uro》s can still do something even when the enchantment is on the table, so the game will not be lost to them. On the other hand, since 《Confounding Conundrum》 replaces itself as a card, you will not be greatly punished if you find it late in the game or if you draw it in the wrong matchup.
This is a risk/reward scenario that leads to games being advantaged for one player and disadvantaged for another depending on the timing of the card being deployed, instead of an immediate “game over” to either side. I like my Magic games to have nuance and to be decided after multiple decisions, so I am thankful for designs that play this way.
In some cases, it can be more of a “hard” hate card. If a strategy depends too much on accelerating lands and it does not have a strong backup plan, it could have a lot of trouble facing the Conundrum. Some versions of 《Primeval Titan》 decks in Modern would fall under this category, for instance. Having strong answers to very linear decks is also something that we can all appreciate.
Impact on Mulligan and Each Formats
- Historic After Nexus of Fate Ban and Adapting to Open Decklists
- Lucas Berthoud
A recurring theme of my articles is how the open decklists rule and London mulligan rule have affected constructed Magic in subtle but meaningful ways. I have played several decks over the last year that had a strategic protocol to mulligan away hands without land acceleration depending on the matchup. While I would not say that my decisions to run those decks again would exactly be a difficult dilemma, it would have given me pause and made the decisions riskier.
If the rest of the game’s metagame decided to run large numbers of it, my deck would be worse across the board. In specific cases, my opponent being aware of my strategy and thus being able to increase their odds by mulliganing towards it (especially when they are on the play) could greatly change the nature of a matchup. This is all strategic good stuff.
In recent Standard formats, we have seen the power of land acceleration often dominate games and 《Confounding Conundrum》 would be a maindeckable card from controlling decks or as a tool to dominate mirror matches, which could in turn allow other strategies to thrive. A bonus is its interaction with Constellation triggers and 《Thirst for Meaning》.
In Historic, the format of the upcoming Mythic Invitational, we saw a quick succession of bans of 《Nexus of Fate》, 《Wilderness Reclamation》 and 《Field of the Dead》. What all of those decks had in common was reliance on land acceleration cards as there are a lot of them available. If the rest of the metagame figures out the next endgame of putting lands into play, I will be glad to have 《Confounding Conundrum》 as a tool.
Lucas Esper Berthoud (Twitter)