I've visited quite a few local gaming stores these past couple weeks, and most Magic players seem to agree: Dominaria's Goblin Chainwhirler is cramping our style!
I wish Wizards of the Coast was a bit more proactive with their research and development. Why create a card that drastically neuters an entire archetype of deck? No one goblin should have all that power!
Personally, I've been playing Steel Leaf Stompy lately, and most recently, Temur Control with Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar as my curve-topper. My current deck doesn't mind Goblin Chainwhirler, actually, because my 2x copies of Champion of Wits can be Eternalized, and my 4x copies of Ripjaw Raptor would love to be pinged.
But this MTG analysis isn't about one man's current deck of choice, but more so, the state of Standard Constructed as a whole. I don't like that all 1/1 tokens as well as all creatures with 1 toughness, are punished so heavily by this one card.
That's dozens of cards in the format that are essentially rendered unplayable in competitive Magic. Especially in a format in which mono-red sits atop the MTG throne.
Before I forget, isn't it silly that two out of the last four Standard Constructed banned and restricted cards were meant to diminish mono-red, and yet, red devotion is still the top deck? Wasn't the banning of Rampaging Ferocidon designed to let tokens strategies emerge? And yet, at the center of the format's woes, is yet another card that severely dampens tokens decks?
All Images: Wizards of the Coast
Perhaps the largest issue at hand isn't the cards themselves, but rather, WotC's rotation scheduling. Over the course of just the last 3 or 4 years, we've witnessed Wizards make numerous changes to how many sets will entail a block, as well as the number of blocks that will be in the Standard Format at any given time. These frequent and confusing adjustments are not only frustrating to Magic players, but they also severely impact the meta-game, because card designers, play testers, and just about everyone involved in the creation of a Magic: The Gathering set is thrown for a loop!
If Wizards wants Standard players to enjoy a healthier meta, and in turn, purchase more booster packs and boxes, they've got to pin down a more stable and reliable rotation schedule.
I think the banning of Ramunap Ruins and Rampaging Ferocidon was a great idea, but it didn't do the trick. (Notice how the banning of Attune with Aether and Rogue Refiner put an end to Temur Energy's lopsided dominance?) Maybe, just maybe, Earthshaker Khenra should have been banned as well or instead of Ramunap Ruins. There are plenty of solid red two-drops to choose from in Standard, and I think Earthshaker Khenra's absence would have had a greater impact on ensuring red-deck-wins was weakened enough to still be a viable deck without being so dominant.
Prior to Pro Tour Dominaria, it seemed like the Standard Constructed format was in a healthy place. However, Pro Tour Dominaria's Top 8 was nothing but mono-red or red-black aggro decks, with the exception of one lone blue-white control deck. This was an unpleasant reminder that Standard wasn't as healthy as we thought it to be.
If Goblin Chainwhirler only required one or two red mana to cast, it would most definitely be ruining the format. Its triple-red requirement is Standard's only saving grace.
I've been seeing a pretty healthy mix of MTG deck archetypes at the local level. There's even a pretty nasty Orzhov Knights deck out there that leverages Heart of Kiran, History of Benalia, Gideon of the Trials, and Walking Ballista, in addition to Knight of Malice and Knight of Grace. But I think most enthusiast-grade Magic players would agree that major tournament results are a far more accurate representation of the state of any MTG format.
The largest obstacle I was running into with my own current Temur Control deck, was insufficient green mana sources for my Ripjaw Raptors. I'm hoping the addition of 4x Hinterland Harbors is just what the Wizard ordered.
The Verdict? We'll definitely have to wait and see more of Magic's next set, Core Set 2019, before we can speculate any further as to whether or not it makes sense to ban Goblin Chainwhirler. I certainly hope M19 contains a couple of answers to Chainwhirler and/or ways to punish its use.
We simply cannot have a card in Standard that wrecks most tokens strategies, wrecks any Standard-playable creature with 1 toughness, and is simultaneously in the same color as the format's predominant deck. That's too much influence for one card.
Hopefully my next Magic: The Gathering related blog post will be about the post-rotation state of Standard Constructed, and will be covering a healthier, more diverse format.
There seem to be quite a few spicy M19 Planeswalkers being spoiled at the moment, as well as a mythic Bolas that transforms from creature to Planeswalker, and I'm excited to incorporate them along with the rest of M19's powerful cards into my two current deck strategies—Steel Leaf Stompy, and Temur Control.
Till next time, Wizards.