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Maik

Preventing infinite combos

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It is my opinion that strong infinite combos are a detriment to the game, both by making the tournament environment sterile and by making the game less attractive to newcomers. Exhibit A: the 2013 World Championship Finale. Instead of going back and forth on whether this opinion is correct, I’d like to start a discussion on how to stop the currently dominating combos (Urguck and Eltharion) and, possibly, close down the most obvious avenue for future infinite chains.

My proposal is twofold:

For Gathering the Winds, change the rules text from "Action: Remove resource tokens from this card equal to the printed cost of a target Spell card in your discard pile to play it at no cost. Then, sacrifice this card."

to "Action: Remove all resource tokens from this card to play (at no cost) one or more target  Spell cards in your discard pile with a total printed cost up to the discarded tokens. Then, sacrifice this card."

This stops the Eltharion/Gathering/Arcane Power combo and is a bit more user-friendly, since it directly gives the possibility of playing several spells. It could be harsh if this action gets canceled, though.

For Barbed Snares, Burlock’s Ingenuity, Convocation of Eagles, Fists of Mork, Pigeon Bombs and Soporific Musk, the idea is to limit them to once per phase. Since this is not directly possible for Tactic cards, one (admittedly rather inelegant) way would be to change

"Then, you may put this card on top of your deck."

into "At the end of the phase in which you played this card, you may put it from your discard pile on top of your deck."

This stops the Urguck/Lord of Change/Fists combo and severely hampers the Eltharion Combo, even without any change to Gathering the Winds. While neither Burlock’s Ingenuity nor Soporific Musk have been disabused so far, I’d prefer the safe route of cutting down all of these six cards.

Is there anything I missed? Are there powerful infinite loopscombos around that would continue unhindered if these changes were implemented? Are there better and cleaner ways to achieve this?

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Ellyrik said:

The sacrifice of GtW should be a cost to only play one spell.

Have you had bad experiences with that card outside of the Eltharion combo, or does it strike you as being too powerful (especially with a couple of useful cost-zero Spells)? Or would you just like to simplify it?

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I agree. The Arcane Winds combo is completely degenerate - any random scrub can win a World Championship with it complice  Muster for War only adds fuel to the flames. Decks of this magnitude should not be possible - they remind me of the infamous combo winter during Urza's Saga block for Magic. Droves of players quit the game (for good reason) and it took years for Magic to recover.

The new FAQ will be out soon and should fix many of these issues. Restrictions and/or errata will rebalance the game and create a healthier environment. I think restricting Muster for War and Gathering the Winds while giving Arcane Power and Fists of Mork "limited" would neuter those decks enough to level the playing field.   

There are other combos out there (most notably Return to Glory) but nothing as game-warping as Gathering the Winds or Fists of Mork.

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So you can't play 2x Spider Riders? That's hardly broken :P

I like mine idea better, it allows a player to play 3x a tactic he has 3x in a deck provided he has all three copies in hand and money to do so, but it shuts down infinite combos relying on playing one tactic 15+ times.

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