Are these Old School "must haves?"

Written by Ron Saikowski, December 20th, 2017

An interesting question was posed on the Old School Magic 4Life Facebook Group by a member asking if, "Blue power was too present in the format?" It brings up a good point... you do see the trio in a good number of decks. Are we just building 57 card decks plus these?

There's no doubting the power contained in these few cards. They have the ability to change the trajectory of the game in an instant with a minimal investment and no real drawback (at least by today's standards). I remember playing years ago and it was not that big of a deal to draw three cards for "one blue." Of course it was nothing for someone to play Black Lotus as well. As the saying goes, "Everyone was doing it."

Is their inclusion in decks or perception of inclusion due to actually being there or our belief that nobody in their right mind would consider playing without them these days? How these cards were viewed back in the day is much different than how they're viewed today. It can be important to keep things in perspective when asking questions like this.

I have them in my deck. I always have. But then again, I've played "blue" from day one so having them in my deck was not like I was splashing them for the power, they were just three blue cards out of a dozen or more. The power never really registered to me.

When I go to build a deck, there are certainly cards that I try to get in there. But it's based more on the colors in the deck than it's based on the power of the cards. Each color having a handful of specific cards I will almost always try and fit in where possible.

"But when it comes to sheer power as the determining factor though, I consider Demonic Tutor to be an absolute "must have" for me.
No question about it."

I'll let any of the three blue cards up top go if it I have to in order to include Demonic Tutor. Regrowth is another one. Both being just as powerful in my mind as the trio showcased above. I will always splash the necessary mana to fit this duo into my deck.

I'd venture to say there are "must haves" in every color.
Maybe due to the power level (perceived or not) and maybe it's due to the fact that the card in question fits perfectly into the deck concept. So I wonder, do folks look at these cards as must haves in the sense that no matter what color they play, they will add the blue mana required to fit these into their deck due to the power alone or is it something else?

Is Mind Twist considered a "must have" for black players?
Is Balance a "must have" for white players?
What about Swords to Plowshares? There's a card that's everywhere! If anything, I see that all the time compared to the blue power above. And it's certainly powerful!

I think that while these are great cards... no question about it, they are not the end-all be-all. It's the rare player you see who has them and chooses not use them. I'm not talking about handicapping for fun or experimenting, but deliberately choosing to remove them from their deck in favor of something else.

Dare I say... something that works even better than the blue power trio. Is it even possible? It requires a deeper understanding of the deck they've built, how it works and what they're trying to accomplish with it.

Make no mistake my friends, those are the decks to look at.
When you see the deck list and just cannot for the life of you figure out why a certain card is in there... pay close attention. Or perhaps why a certain card or cards are not in there when they should be by all common sense standards.

Maybe that's the bigger take away here for me. A reinforcement that those are the decks, those fringe builds that you only ever see once in a blue moon that I need to pay attention to most of all. The ones that deliberately stray away from what we all know to be the "best."

I am learning how to play at that level.
I'd like to say I'm there, but that'd be a lie. I'm no where close.
I still have to rely on the "must haves" to help me win.

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IMAGE: WotC. The blue 3 out of the "Power 9."
KEYWORDS: Old School Magic, blue, power nine