If you’ve been around your local game store long enough or even at competitive REL events you’ve probably heard the following few phrases tossed around:
“This deck is unfair!”
“Well, that’s fair”
“Seems fair..” said with a sarcastic remark
And so on and so on. You know what I’m talking about. The people who complain that certain decks and deck archetypes are deemed unfun and unfair because they are seemingly impossible to beat against your deck. It’s probably confirmation bias hitting me but it seems like I hear these phrases uttered more and more often lately. So what is fair?
If we look at the definition of fair it is as follows:
“Agreeing with what is right or acceptable”
“Treating people in a way that does not favor some over others”
“Not too harsh or critical”
So now that we have that out of the way what is fair again? Most times when I hear people complain about unfair decks it’s most likely caused with them losing to a deck that is not well suited to theirs or a control deck that locks you down. Can we really call those unfair though?
Most people will argue that Magic the Gathering is about fun right? It is just a game some would say after getting lambasted that an opponent’s deck was deemed unfair. So what fun is it if someone plays a deck that locks down someone else or it has an infinite combo and there is seemingly nothing you can do?
I can understand this point of view, you go to FNM or to your LGS to play some Magic and it can be no fun if the one super competitive person brings their awesome deck and beats everyone with it. Whether this just be a free for all play or a commander game. It can bring no fun for everyone else. This is where playgroups can make up house rules where they all agree not to play certain cards or combos and everyone can be in agreement and happy.
On the other hand though, Magic has always been about (to me) ways to figure out how certain cards work and figuring out cool combinations and spells and effects and building a deck from there regardless of the format. Saying that the one person who brings their one deck that can destroy yours and your playgroup that they can no longer play it or certain cards within it, how fair is that for that person? Instead of setting the game on an easy difficulty, why not take that challenge to figure out a way to defeat that particular deck?
But again, you can argue, I just play for fun and don’t want the stress or non enjoyment of playing against those kinds of decks. Which is fine in itself, because Magic caters to all types of players and I can agree. I personally don’t take EDH/Commander very seriously so my decks are not anywhere near being considered competitive. I don’t always put the optimal cards in them either, I prefer fun cards. The only time I do not agree when people complain about decks being unfun or unfair is when it comes to competition.
When it comes to FNM or higher level Comp REL events whether or not a deck is unfair or not should not even be questioned. There are caveats to this of course. I am of course referring to bannings that have happened in Magic’s past. Whether that is the splinter twin banning, the summer bloom banning as well as pod and etc….. You can find all the banned cards here:
Unless a particular card is so warping of the format or a deck is warping the format should there be someone to intervene but as a player while you are waiting for a particular card or deck to be banned, should you just sit by and let it take over or should you figure out ways to beat it?
If doing well at competitive events means a lot to you then you need to figure out ways to beat that deck that seems so unfair to you. Practice against it and even play as that deck so you can understand all the lines of play and understand it’s weaknesses!
A good example of this is the takeover of Eldrazi in Modern. When Eldrazi swept the Pro Tour a few months back everyone was calling for its ban. Wizards decided to let the meta evolve and see if people can figure out ways to beat it and there have been some attempts! If you look at all the big Modern events on mtgtop8.com you’ll mainly see Eldrazi Aggro running rampant everywhere! Does this mean we should ban some parts of the Eldrazi deck?
You could make a good argument that yes you should. Right now at mtgtop8.com Eldrazi Aggro
takes up 27% of the meta. I don’t think there has been a Modern deck that has ever taken up that much but I ask once again should we just give up and let Wizards take care of the format or allow them to maybe print some answers to help us combat the Eldrazi invasion or have the fine pro minds develop ways to combat the Eldrazi?
Without getting too deep into the Eldrazi mess in Modern. I mainly just wanted to state, that in Magic, especially at higher level events (which is where this article sort of sparked from), if a deck is truly unfair. Maybe you just didn’t prepare right for the event, or played a deck that was poorly suited for the meta. Whatever the issue may be, figure out why the deck is unfair and figure out how to fairly beat it!