idSurge wrote: ↑
2 years ago
There's not a lot of value in debating the definition of fair. We all should have learned by now from MTGS, it won't go anywhere.
I actually disagree with this. We might not all agree on the definition in the end, but it's helpful to move as much towards a shared definition as we can. These terms are used so frequently in Modern conversation that it's hard to discuss them without some shared understanding. Here's my general take on it.
I tend to define fair vs. unfair in terms of resource baselines and spectrums. In a fair baseline, one land produces one mana, players draw one card per turn, we have X mana available to use by turn X, we can trade one card to remove or neutralize another card, etc.. It's Portal magic or Limited Magic with commons. These are all examples of fair, clean, classic Magic. Anything that gets ahead of those fair exchange rates starts to slip into unfair, but they become unfair on a long spectrum. Trading Bolt for Hierarch is a perfectly fair trade: one mana and one card to kill a one-mana creature. Fatal Pushing (w/ revolt) a Mantis Rider, however, is an unfair trade for the Pusher, as the Pusher now spent one mana to kill a three-mana creature. A T4 Verdict to kill six-mana worth of creatures is also unfair, but not as unfair as a one-mana T4 Terminus to do the same thing.
We can also extend this to mana and resource generation. Mana is where the fair/unfair spectrum typically appears. Tapping three shocklands to cast T3feri is fair. Tapping three Tronlands to cast Karn is not fair. Tapping Hierarch and two lands to cast Rider on T2 is also not fair, but is much more fair than casting T2 TKS off two E-Temples. But we also see fair/unfair elements appear in mana costs and resource expenditure. Protecting your T1 creature with FoW/Daze in Legacy is not fair. Nor is a virtual draw three off Brainstorm. To use Modern examples, BBE into Lily is not fair either. Nor is Primeval Titan with Pact of Negation backup.
Whether we're cheating resource generation (e.g. Tronlands, Temple, Vial, Hierarch, SSG, Opal, etc.), resource exchange (e.g. Cryptic Command, Verdict, KCommand, etc.), or resource expenditure (e.g. Tasigur and delve, Amalgam and Bloodghast coming into play sans mana, Mutagenic Growth, etc.), we can always construct a spectrum from most fair to most unfair. We can put all competitive decks on that spectrum. If we went with that method, we would probably find that all competitive decks are trying to cheat fair resource curves in multiple ways, and that the best competitive decks are just doing it better than their competitors.