The Tenth Doctor | Doctor Who Commander Decks
27, Jan, 24

MTG Players Voice Frustration with Rules Change to Suspend!

Article at a Glance

One thing that is rather unique about MTG is that the game is continuously evolving over time. This can be as simple as the fluctuation of top tier decks within a format’s metagame. However, there are tons of other examples, including the effect of power creep on modern card design and the effect that bans have on their respective formats.

One aspect of the evolution of MTG cards over time is the fact that MTG cards have become a bit more restrictive in timing and usage. For instance, many current cards specify that their abilities can only be activated at Sorcery speed. Also, more cards seem to be printed with less drawbacks nowadays. For instance, the new Discover mechanic allows you to put the card you reveal into your hand and choose not to cast it then and there, in contrast to how Cascade works. In some ways, changes like this can lead to more straightforward play patterns. While some players may view this as a good thing, many players enjoy the fact that sometimes, your own cards can backfire.

In a similar vein, the Murders at Karlov Manor release notes were revealed, and players were quick to pick up on a rules change to Suspend that has some major potential impact on Constructed gameplay. The change, while ultimately giving more agency to the player Suspending cards, removes most potential downsides associated with Suspending cards. As you may guess, this has led to some mixed opinions. Before we get into how the player base views this change in general, it’s important to go over exactly what is being changed and how it might impact various MTG formats.

Removing Detrimental Scenarios

Crashing Footfalls

Suspend is an interesting mechanic that allows you to pay mana to exile a spell from your hand with a certain number of time counters on it instead of casting it then and there. At the beginning of your upkeep, you remove a time counter from the card. Once the last time counter is removed, you cast your spell. This was relatively straightforward. However, where the change occurs is once the last time counter is removed. In the past, you would be forced to cast the Suspended card from exile if able. Now, it is your choice whether to cast the spell and if you choose not to cast it, it will remain in exile indefinitely.

The majority of the time, this change won’t matter much. After all, if you are going out of your way to Suspend a spell, chances are you will want to cast it after waiting a number of turns. Where this change does come up, though, is in corner-case scenarios where casting the Suspended card is actually detrimental to the caster themself.

Likely the most common example of this in a competitive setting is in the Crashing Footfalls vs. burn matchup. While the Crashing Footfalls deck usually casts Crashing Footfalls by Cascading into it via Violent Outburst or Shardless Agent, it’s not uncommon to Suspend a copy from hand turn one if necessary. From there, it is also quite common for burn decks to utilize Roiling Vortex as a hate card in the matchup that forces the Crashing Footfalls player to take five damage whenever they cast their namesake card.

Now, if the Crashing Footfalls player reaches a point where the last time counter is removed while Vortex is still in play, they can simply choose to keep Crashing Footfalls in exile and not take five damage. A similar pattern can come with Eidolon of the Great Revel as well. The reality is, this change largely removes a lot of the most typical ways players can punish these Cascade decks for naturally Suspending their cards.

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Extra Agency

Living End

Sometimes, even if the opponent doesn’t play something detrimental, you can use this change to your advantage. For instance, as a Living End player, Suspending Living End has always come with a risk. Let’s say you chose to Suspend Living End with three time counters on it with past rules. Then, next turn, you were fortunate enough to draw Violent Outburst.

If you were to Cascade into Living End right away, bringing back your graveyard army, you would have a one turn window of attacking before the other copy would come off of Suspend. Then, your board would get wiped once again, and winning would become much more difficult. In a similar sense, Suspending two copies back-to-back, like in the post shown above, would almost certainly be a mistake, as the second copy would wipe the board you created with the first.

Therefore, Suspending Living End was often only used as a last resort. Once Suspended, the opponent would know exactly when it would come off of Suspend and could plan accordingly, as well. Now, because you can always choose not to cast it if you don’t want to, Suspending Living End is much more appealing. You can simply make the decision of whether to cast it based on your draw steps and what your opponent does.

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Player Reaction

At first glance, it seems as though a lot of more experienced players are disappointed by the Suspend change overall. Many players believe that more and more cards are being designed with little to no drawbacks associated with them, which removes part of the fun of using them. We mentioned Discover in a similar vein, where you can always choose not to cast the card you reveal right away and put it into your hand. Once again, this removes any downside, such as potentially hitting a removal spell off of Discover when the opponent has no Creatures in play.

Even though the rules change to Suspend will likely create less “feels bad” moments, such as being forced to target yourself with Rift Bolt on Suspend if the opponent cast Blossoming Calm on your upkeep, it’s interesting to see just how many players actually enjoy this aspect of the game. The foreshadowing element of Suspend lent itself to some cool opportunities, such as keeping your own board clear when facing down Phthisis, making the opponent target their own Creature and lose a bunch of life.

This begs the question then: why was this change ultimately implemented? One likely scenario is that it created unfun play patterns for newer Commander players since the release of the Doctor Who Commander decks. For instance, The Tenth Doctor forces you to Suspend a non-Land card from your library with three time counters on it when it attacks, without knowing what the card will be in most circumstances. This can create some awkward situations, such as being forced to wipe your own board even if you don’t want to.

It’s also possible that this change is being made with MTG Arena in mind, as it’s unclear exactly what the client can and cannot handle. Either way, the change to Suspend has a lot of players annoyed. It’ll be interesting to see if any similar mechanical changes that remove potential drawbacks will be made in the near future.

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