[SCD] Flash

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Post by cryogen » 6 months ago


There is currently a lot of noise surrounding this card, and I'd like to discuss it (and more broadly the interrelationship between "casual spirit of the format" Commander and cEDH).

The first thing you're probably saying is, "Why ban Flash? No one runs that card." Well, that's sort of true. I am struggling to think of a time when I ever saw this card played in a game that didn't have prizes on the line. And there is the argument to be made that you can do some non-degenerate things with this card, like using it in conjunction with an ETB creature like Eternal Witness to get a Counterspell back to your hand, or with Kokusho, the Evening Star to stop yourself from taking lethal damage. There are certainly some generals that would find a way to use Flash fairly.

The counterargument to this, and the reason that so many players want to see it banned is because it is dominating the cEDH scene to the point where you either run a Flash Hulk combo or you attempt to metagame against it. In talking to people from that community, Flash Hulk has completely stifled creative deckbuilding and deck variety.

So what, right? That's a cEDH problem. Well, yes and no. It's true that the Rules Committee does not tailor the list to competitive play, and I think they would have a hard time making a ban list that catered to both groups without upsetting one group. But at the same time, cEDH players ARE Commander players like everyone else, and they don't necessarily play exclusively cEDH. So we should be concerned about their happiness with the format. And as public play increases, it gets harder and harder to keep playstyles separated, meaning that the chances of a Tymna and Thrasios deck could easily run up against a Feather deck are higher, even with steps like Rule 0 in place to try and prevent this.

If we look at Flash from the perspective of the format philosophy, Flash is actually a good candidate for banning.... almost. The phrase "it does not seek to regulate competitive play or power level, which are decisions best left to individual play groups" is a disqualifier immediately, although I would offer the notion that the problem Flash presents isn't one that is solvable at the "talk to your play group" level. But let's look at the rest of the philosophy. Commander is a social game that is designed to let players express themselves through their decks. Cards that win out of nowhere, are ubiquitous, or cause other players to feel they must run, and lead to repetitive game play should be avoided. Flash hits every one of those points. It has warped their format to the point where you have to play it, and it has pushed many other decks and archetypes out of the format. As such, games play out very similar by being an race to see who can Flash first, with the combo easily achieved by turn two.

In summary, banning Flash would have very little impact on the casual Commander players (as evidenced by EDHREC showing that the overwhelming majority of decks that run Flash also run Hulk), but by banning it you would reopen the cEDH metagame into one of diversity and greater enjoyment.
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Post by tstorm823 » 6 months ago

It seems odd to me that so few people play Flash casually in the format of etbs and big fatties, I personally use it to sneak in Grozoth, but apparently I am a rare breed. You made me look up those edhrec numbers. 73% of Flash decks have Protean Hulk, only 21% of Protean Hulk decks have Flash, so it's pretty clear which of those cards has more draw outside of competitive play.

I would not be that sad to see it go. A minor sacrifice if it's messing up other people's tables.
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Post by ilovesaprolings » 6 months ago

Honestly feels like a really worthless card except when it's broken.
You mention using eternal witness. The witness only cost 1 more than flash, so it doesn't seem like a great move.
Other uses i can think of... Keiga, Kokusho, grozoth, avenger of zendikar, craterhoof... they almost all require some setup or deckbuilding
You can't even use it for a surprise blocker
So yeah i wouldn't mind seeing it banned, since its "casual" applications are almost 0 and it only exists to be degenerate

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Post by Hermes_ » 6 months ago

I honestly had no idea Flash flash was a thing before the announcement.
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Post by Morganelefay » 6 months ago

This perfectly illustrates the issue with cEDH. It, quite frankly, needs it's own banlist. A full banlist tailored for tournaments where prizes are on the line, which can then be built for, and all you gotta ask before sitting down at a table is "Are we playing CEDH or EDH?"

Until this is the case, however, I support a ban of Flash in order to appease the cEDH crowd, but it should be an exception to ban for them, not a rule.
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Post by pokken » 6 months ago

cryogen wrote:
6 months ago
<snip>
The counterargument to this, and the reason that so many players want to see it banned is because it is dominating the cEDH scene to the point where you either run a Flash Hulk combo or you attempt to metagame against it. In talking to people from that community, Flash Hulk has completely stifled creative deckbuilding and deck variety.

So what, right? That's a cEDH problem. Well, yes and no. It's true that the Rules Committee does not tailor the list to competitive play, and I think they would have a hard time making a ban list that catered to both groups without upsetting one group. But at the same time, cEDH players ARE Commander players like everyone else, and they don't necessarily play exclusively cEDH. So we should be concerned about their happiness with the format. And as public play increases, it gets harder and harder to keep playstyles separated, meaning that the chances of a Tymna and Thrasios deck could easily run up against a Feather deck are higher, even with steps like Rule 0 in place to try and prevent this.
<snip>
In summary, banning Flash would have very little impact on the casual Commander players (as evidenced by EDHREC showing that the overwhelming majority of decks that run Flash also run Hulk), but by banning it you would reopen the cEDH metagame into one of diversity and greater enjoyment.
The fact that things can dominate the CEDH scene to the point of stifling deckbuilding is the main reason I think CEDH really needs its own banlist. That format is never going to be healthy with a friendly banlist.

But, I do agree with you that we can make small changes to the banlist that don't have negative impacts on casual decks by banning things like Flash and Food Chain and Isochron Scepter. Those will all help CEDH but have almost no negative impact on normal EDH. So personally I am fine with it. I like seeing jankier 3-card combos personally and getting rid of the most efficient 2-card combos makes for more of that -- and also more crappy expensive easily disrupted tempo-destroying 2-card combos like Kiki and mike/trike.

I do think it would be a good idea to clearly identify if anything is banned because of the whole "wins out of nowhere" criteria and *not* because it's prolific, so that playgroups can more efficiently ignore those things if they want to.
ilovesaprolings wrote:
6 months ago
Honestly feels like a really worthless card except when it's broken.
You mention using eternal witness. The witness only cost 1 more than flash, so it doesn't seem like a great move.
Other uses i can think of... Keiga, Kokusho, grozoth, avenger of zendikar, craterhoof... they almost all require some setup or deckbuilding
You can't even use it for a surprise blocker
So yeah i wouldn't mind seeing it banned, since its "casual" applications are almost 0 and it only exists to be degenerate
Just to correct a misconception here, Eternal witness costs one more, but you can't "get" someone by flashing it in as you can with flash. Also flash sacs it, so you can then recur it repeatedly.

And another one, you *can* choose to pay the creature's full mana cost with flash, so flash can be like a non-telegraphed Vedalken orrery but just once. :)

It does have some janky fair uses but they're to use my favorite phrase of the moment, exceptions that prove the rule ;)


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And just to reiterate a point I think is implicit there, I would never support banning CEDH support cards like Mystic Remora or Windfall or Demonic Tutor. Those things are damned fine and fun cards in many decks.

This potential CEDH criteria should apply only to cards with tiny slivers of use in normal EDH that are dominant in CEDH.

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Post by Jim Wolfie » 6 months ago

So I play cedh pretty much exclusively. I really only have a couple talking points personally because I'm okay with playing the chicken game that flash forces you into. For perspective on how warping flash is It's not "decks designed to beat counter flash" and "flash decks". It's more like "flash decks" or "decks that can play chicken game and protect the castle on cage at the same time" . That sounds like the former until you realize it's actually just the mirror, consult decks, and food chain decks. Before the ban it was also p engine decks.

Splitting the format sounds great on paper but it's kinda horrible in practice for anyone involved, casual or not. Like the question is now for everyone "what deck do we play" into "what banlist?".

You guys should probably be using flash hulk to cheat out 6 drops if not for combos. Like imagine going flash into hulk into consecrated Sphinx. Or a 5 drop and a 1 drop? For 2 mana? Sounds great my guy.

I'll level with you guys, I don't like bans. I kinda hate them. It took me personally a long time to come around to the idea of a flash ban being good. I'm also very angry because every time Sheldon makes a post about his feelings on competitive play that I have seen, he goes out of his way to treat cedh crowd in a way that's both not within the format's vision, that playing a game to completion is also not within the vision, and also not getting that cedh was literally a subreddit spinoff because we wanted to make cool powerful decks while respecting those who didn't. Literally his formats vision in curating a playgroup vision that you can enjoy. The fact that he says our way of enjoying commander time over is not commander makes him come off uncooperative

The worst part is, Sheldon isn't the worst of this behavior. He's arguably one of the least malicious.

Like if there's one thing to take away from what I'm saying here as a deck building chance , it's that flash and protean hulk are both super cheap right now, full combo is less than the price of a draft (vizier of remedies, carrion feeder, disciple of the vault, lesser masticore ) and even if you play fair in the deck, you're still cheating out fatties and cool bomby creatures with flash or in the case with hulk for 2 mana.

To take anyway from this as a person, cedh players are casual as %$#% regardless of what the RC wants to believe.
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Post by LabManiac_Cameron » 6 months ago

As someone who had been playing EDH for over 10 years and greatly enjoyed cEDH for the last three years, I can say that every time I've seen Flash be cast, in casual or competitive, it is a problem. Flash is part of the reason that Sundering Titan was banned. People would flash the titan and it would ETB+Die for 2 mana and destroy 10 lands of that player's choice. This usually was a 8 to 2 ratio or sometimes even 10 to 0 regarding how many lands of opponents that they destroyed compared to their own. After Titan got the ban, I only ever saw Flash paired with an Academy Rector to get, you guessed it, Omniscience. It is a card that CAN have legitimate play, but rarely see casual non-abusive play. It was mostly a frustration for quite some time, someone spent two mana and two cards to get free spells. They didn't always win, but they usually got an insurmountable advantage. Then protean hulk got unbanned. And Flash became a problem for everyone, not just cEDH.

From both a casual and competitive perspective, Flash ticks off 5 of the 7 criteria for a ban when paired with Hulk. Based on EDHRec, this is PRIMARILY where flash is played. There isn't a non-abusive way that this deck is being played in the broader area. Look at the EDHRec data. All of the creatures are mana dorks or combo pieces. This means that the games that flash will see play is going to, for the vast majority of ALL players, be as part of a combo. Whether it is in a casual game at a kitchen table, a EDH night at an LGS or a paid side event at a Magic Fest.

This isn't a casual vs cEDH play experience only. As EDH becomes more and more popular, the more that both groups cross paths and play games together. And no matter how much I work to prevent the inevitable pub stomp, it is going to happen and going to continue to happen.

Removing Flash from the game, isn't just about balance for cEDH, it is about positive game experiences for everyone involved. Regardless of how the RC sees their onus of balancing for competitive. Flash is causing a significant portion of the EDH player base to....

• Deal with "...severe resource imbalances"
• Be at tables where "...players win out of nowhere"
• Have to adjust their decks as they "...feel they must play certain cards, even though they are also problematic."
• Not be able to really stop the Protean Hulk as Flash makes it "...very difficult for other players to interact with, especially if doing so requires dedicated, narrow responses when deck-building."
• And the presence of it encourages strategies that "Lead to repetitive game play."

As a long time EDH player, really the fun in the game for me is part of the journey to the end. Who wins isn't as important as the decisions I made and how I challenged myself and read the table. Having Flash makes it so that games sometimes have no journey at all. From a NON competitive perspective, THAT is part of the biggest issue.

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Post by benjameenbear » 6 months ago

Sound reasoning, @LabManiac_Cameron and I agree. Flash as a card warrants a ban imo.
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Post by cryogen » 6 months ago

Jim Wolfie wrote:
6 months ago
The fact that he says our way of enjoying commander time over is not commander makes him come off as a tool.
Please choose your words better in the future. You may not like what he says, or even him as a person, but that's no excuse to call him names.
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Post by Jim Wolfie » 6 months ago

You right. Will do.
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Post by pokken » 6 months ago

Realistically flash shoulda gone right on when protean hulk came off, much line the painter/iona ban. This was easily foreseeable I think given that flash is still banned in legacy.

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Post by LordRewind » 6 months ago

I am not a huge proponent of splitting off a separate cedh banlist, and then managing 2 ban lists. Frankly, cedh having its own ban list implies that cedh is a separate format and people won't pub-stomp casual tables with intense decks because regular edh doesn't have the same banlist.

To bring it back to the question at hand, has anyone seen flash cast at a non-cedh table and still not had it wreck the game? I feel when it does appear, it wrecks the game, regardless of the intended competitiveness at the table, as is the nature of the card.

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Post by ilovesaprolings » 6 months ago

I'm sorry but right now all of you are suggesting to ban Flash only in cEDH and not "casual" EDH?
... what the hell? why should a card that has almost no fair use the left unbanned for casuals? So that smartass could pubstomp with their flash-hulk?
It makes more sense to ban it in casual and left it unbanned in cEDH, since cEDH probably have cheap counterspells, aven mindcensors and other thing to stop the combo.
If the card is too cancerous in cEDH too... then ban it everywhere!

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Post by tstorm823 » 6 months ago

ilovesaprolings wrote:
6 months ago
I'm sorry but right now all of you are suggesting to ban Flash only in cEDH and not "casual" EDH?
... what the hell? why should a card that has almost no fair use the left unbanned for casuals? So that smartass could pubstomp with their flash-hulk?
It makes more sense to ban it in casual and left it unbanned in cEDH, since cEDH probably have cheap counterspells, aven mindcensors and other thing to stop the combo.
If the card is too cancerous in cEDH too... then ban it everywhere!
I don't think people think Flash Hulk is acceptable in casual and unacceptable in competitive. Rather, the thinking is that Flash is apparently ruining competitive play while us casuals are blissfully unaware that's going on. I personally wouldn't feel put out by a Flash ban, banning it everywhere seems like a fine solution to me. But people talking about the need for a second cedh banlist are probably thinking that because right now cedh players are dealing with problematic cards that see practically zero casual play, and waiting for the casual part of the format to ban cards that don't see play down here in the first place is not a practical way to balance a competitive format.
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Post by Transformatron » 6 months ago

@LabManiac_Cameron Said all that needs to be said on my behalf.

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Post by Hornager » 6 months ago

I made an account specifically to address Flash as a card.

First off, lets begin with the fact that cEDH will never be a competitive format because there are simply too many uncontrollable variables that playing for large sums of money is not something i would do, cause even if I play 100% perfectly, there is no guarantee that I will win at all. At first, you have seating arrangements and turn order, which makes a massive difference, and can literally cost you the game even if you did everything perfectly. Secondly, what I do not understand is that if money is involved, I do expect the most broken decks and the most degenerate strategies. In a tourney, i 100% expect 4 flash hulks, or something that can beat them .

Now, I would like to respond to Cameron's points regarding the combos.
• Deal with "...severe resource imbalances"
- I dont quite understand this one. Everyone should deckbuild in a such a way to counter or interact with flashhulk and other decks like that, so I am not sure that causes resource imbalances. If you are talking about the fact that it is an A+B combo for 1U at instant speed meaning you have to respect any 1U open, then i guess I can see your point, but the issue is that in most cases, you dont just naturally draw flash hulk, so if somone has tutored, you have to respect their ability to win, but this holds true in most, if not all proper cEDH decks.
• Be at tables where "...players win out of nowhere"
- rarely happens from my experience. If you tutor twice,everyone knows you more than likely have flash hulk in hand,so they have to respect it. If everyone taps out knowing you have the combo, that is on them. Again, this is the same for most true cEDH decks. They can all win out of 'nowhere' , but most of the time, it is all tutored up, and the game state is taken advantage of.

• Have to adjust their decks as they "...feel they must play certain cards, even though they are also problematic."
- if you have moral qualms about playing problematic cards, perhaps cEDH is not for you. We do the nastiest and most degenerate things to win, and we all know what to expect, so not really sure what to say here.
• Not be able to really stop the Protean Hulk as Flash makes it "...very difficult for other players to interact with, especially if doing so requires dedicated, narrow responses when deck-building."
- Counterspells, noxious revival, multiple other responses exist, similar as to every one of the other cEDH wincons. Decks that are competitive will ensure they have a way to meaningfully interact with decks at the other table, either through removal or counterspells, so again, I am not sure what that i agree that it is hard to interact with the deck, and in no way do i see these responses as dedicated or narrow, but i would love to hear an example of one.
• And the presence of it encourages strategies that "Lead to repetitive game play."
- cEDH is repetitive. Combos are basically the same if left uninterrupted, be it storm, flash hulk, food chain, etc. If you look at it, there are loops and these are basically repeated all the time. The only difference typically is getting to the loops, assembling them while stopping your opponents from doing the same and the cycle repeats. What deck is not repetetive if it gets to do it's own thing?

Overall, I think the issue here is that people are not understanding that cEDH is not a nice format. Sometimes you don't have fun, but we all do it in an effort to win at any cost. If I am playing my JVP high tide deck and you can't interact with me, but it takes me 15 mins to storm win, I don't care that you ' are not having fun' . We all should have come here to win, and if the win takes 5 seconds or 5 mins, if the table truly wants to play cEDH, they will not complain. Same thing with combos. If i come into a pod with my JVP high tide deck and i get ruined by the flash hulk deck or the food chain deck, I do not complain about those decks, I create my own Flash hulk deck or whatever strategy I think can beat those decks. If you come into a pod with a deck that is not at the same powerlevel and get crushed, that is your fault ( that JVP vs Flashhulk example happens all the time, as they are both my decks, and sometimes I play JVP, but when i lose, i take it and move on). If everyone is on the same powerlevel, then the games get fun, and even if there are feelsbad moments, this is simply EDH as a format doing things like this, but if I tap out t3 or t4 after my opponents have tutored, and i lose, that is literally all on me, especially if I did not need to take that risk.

I do think that flash is strong, but as long as everyone is on the same powerlevel, it should not matter. perhaps the issue is that due to financial constraints, the powerlevel is not the same, and that is where proxies and that whole discussion comes in.

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Post by pokken » 6 months ago

Hornager wrote:
6 months ago
I do think that flash is strong, but as long as everyone is on the same powerlevel, it should not matter. perhaps the issue is that due to financial constraints, the powerlevel is not the same, and that is where proxies and that whole discussion comes in.
Other competitive formats would ban (well, have banned see: legacy, and it being restricted in vintange) Flash to improve diversity because actual diversity is a cornerstone of a healthy metagame.

Obviously the EDH banned list is not balanced that way.

But if Flash Hulk is the best thing bar none, it *should* be banned. If anyone really cared about an actual competitive environment :)

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Post by Hornager » 6 months ago

In cEDH we don't have enough data to defenitely say any one deck or strategy is best bar none. That being said, while most people do play thrasios Tymna with hulk, first sliver food chain has won in a recent tourney, and there are a number of other decks such as consultation (kess/ zur) all do well almost all the time. Also, tymna kraum Control and stax shells are getting somewhat popular.

In no way can we prove that flash hulk or any other strategy is the be all end all, and honestly, flash hulk, even if it is touted as best, there are a lot of people that could play the deck, but choose not to cause playstyle reasons and still do very well.
pokken wrote:
6 months ago
Hornager wrote:
6 months ago
I do think that flash is strong, but as long as everyone is on the same powerlevel, it should not matter. perhaps the issue is that due to financial constraints, the powerlevel is not the same, and that is where proxies and that whole discussion comes in.
Other competitive formats would ban (well, have banned see: legacy, and it being restricted in vintange) Flash to improve diversity because actual diversity is a cornerstone of a healthy metagame.

Obviously the EDH banned list is not balanced that way.

But if Flash Hulk is the best thing bar none, it *should* be banned. If anyone really cared about an actual competitive environment :)

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Post by BloodyWensday » 6 months ago

Hornager wrote:
6 months ago
S N I P
Pretty sure his reply wasn't cEDH specific, but in general terms of EDH.
Resolving an early Flash x (either) Rector will in fact result in a severe resource in balance in lower powered tables while requiring narrow answers (for them), for example.

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Post by darrenhabib » 6 months ago

Flash + Hulk is definitely the best and in most ways hardest to deal with as far as two card combos. Getting Grand Abolisher with Protean Hulk or other suite of creatures to prevent interaction with a combo makes it very difficult to interact with.
I do think it's important to reward interactive decks, and short of a counterspell for the Flash itself, it's game over most times.

I use Flash + Academy Rector and Arena Rector for my Aminatou, the Fateshifter deck, and they are strong combos, but you need a few other pieces to make them work as game enders.

What else is Flash used for? What's the next most busted thing you can do with it?

Is Flash the problem or is Protean Hulk the problem? I personally never understood why Protean Hulk was unbanned, and the reality is that not a single soul has used it for "value".

If Flash was banned, then the next likely candidate for best combo would be Food Chain + Eternal Scourge. But at the very least you can use removal on Food Chain.

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Post by pokken » 6 months ago

I think it's pretty safe to say flash hulk is at least probably the best. Flash is strong enough to be restricted in vintage. That's saying quite a lot when you're playing watered down vintage with commanders.

Obviously the formats are not perfect analogues. But I think it's close enough. The number of best cards in cedh that are restricted in vintage is fairly high so there's at least some overlap.


--------------------

I have seen a few value hulks. I've picked one up to put in a deck that would win with it but do so by hardcasting it and saccing it. Gentleman's hulk if you will.

Given what we know about vintage and legacy sneaking a creature in at instant speed is pretty busted. We don't have griseldad but its only a matter of time before wizards prints some combo enabler on a death trigger.

I'm pretty confident flash should have been the ban in the first place. Hulk with a sac outlet is significantly more fair than many combos already.

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Post by onering » 6 months ago

The idea of banning for cEDH seems nice, but its a fool's errand. There is no way to balance the format with bans without banning either nearly every 2 card combo or banning all the fast mana and tutors, neither of which cEDH players want. Flash has no impact on casual. There's no reason to ban it. It's not like alternate combos that play in the same space don't exist and won't be played at the top cEDH levels, so banning it accomplishes almost nothing.

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Post by pokken » 6 months ago

onering wrote:
6 months ago
The idea of banning for cEDH seems nice, but its a fool's errand. There is no way to balance the format with bans without banning either nearly every 2 card combo or banning all the fast mana and tutors, neither of which cEDH players want. Flash has no impact on casual. There's no reason to ban it. It's not like alternate combos that play in the same space don't exist and won't be played at the top cEDH levels, so banning it accomplishes almost nothing.
Much like in Modern and Legacy the goal is not to exclude combo but to confine it to acceptable parameters.

In Legacy those parameters don't require a Splinter Twin/ ban - but they do require a Flash ban. In Modern they ban Seething Song but not Gifts Ungiven. Modern and legacy each have parameters they're operating on.

For a "decent" competitive experience in CEDH you probably want to have combos meet one or more criteria:

1) die to removal
2) cost >4 to set up
3) take >2 cards
4) sorcery speed

So it's perfectly reasonable to think that, in a CEDH curated banlist anyway, Flash might be banned but Food Chain not (because it meets 1, 2 and 3)

That said we're obviously not dealing with a CEDH banlist, but I think Flash warrants some consideration for a variety of reasons that've been presented.

It surely wouldn't hurt, and if it reduces the pressure on CEDH a little I think it's fine.

I do think there is a non-trivial danger that Flash-Hulk becomes normalized over time in the same way Stax is kinda becoming - so nipping it in the bud would probably send a message.

There is really nothing in EDH even remotely close to the efficiency of the Flash Hulk combo as far as 2-card combos go.

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Post by MRHblue » 6 months ago

pokken wrote:
6 months ago
But, I do agree with you that we can make small changes to the banlist that don't have negative impacts on casual decks by banning things like Flash and Food Chain and Isochron Scepter. Those will all help CEDH but have almost no negative impact on normal EDH. So personally I am fine with it. I like seeing jankier 3-card combos personally and getting rid of the most efficient 2-card combos makes for more of that -- and also more crappy expensive easily disrupted tempo-destroying 2-card combos like Kiki and mike/trike.
I think this may be misguided as an idea just a little, mostly built on a Food Chain or Isochron ban "have almost no negative impact on normal EDH". I see both pretty regularly for value , certainly not for infinite wins .

I think thats a fine idea, but breaks down on actual execution. Sure I have never seen flash, really don't care. But if making cEDH 'better' means a ban on IS, I don't think it's a smart move. So then why is my idea on Flash OK? Someone else probably sees it regularly.

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