Last month, Wizards of the Coast announced a salient set of rules changes. Although many of these changes are superficial, one in particular is not; combat damage now uses the stack. While events like these can be expected to raise cries that Magic is dying among scrubs, even more cogent veterans expressed unhappiness at the change.
“The change removes decisions a lot of interesting decisions from the game,” commented one player. “Consider blocking Savannah Lions with a Sakura Tribe Elder. Under the old rules I had to make a choice between trading and getting a land, but now there will simply be only one correct play. I understand their desire to make the game more accessible to newer players by removing the unintuitive waterfall damage system but they’ve done it at the cost of dumbing down the game for competitive players.
“The changes don’t even make sense from a flavor perspective either,” he continued, “under the new rules if I triple block a Dauntless Escort with Scion of Oona the attacker can split the damage and kill all my guys. How does that even make sense at all? Is it that when the Scion dies his buddies are torn up about it and suddenly realize that their wounds are lethal? And how does Nantuko Husk fight some dude and then eat one of his buddies who was just fighting at the same time only his buddy still kills the dude he was fighting and husk survives? Two Ravenous Baloths engage in a fight to the death and then both commit ritual suicide in order to avoid dying normally? What?”
Although many competitive players believe that the changes give them fewer opportunities to outplay their opponents during the combat phase, others point out that these opportunities have just shifted from declaring the order of blockers to damage assignment.
“I’m really surprised that people are getting worked up about this, if you play with the new rules for a bit you’ll see that the changes are pretty minor and don’t come up very often,” said another player who acknowledged that he was going to miss windmill slamming his cards ‘onto the battlefield’.