Changes Effective October 1st, 2018:
Birthing Pod decreased from 3 points to 2 points
Hermit Druid decreased from 1 point to 0 points (REMOVED)
Below are the justifications for the following changes:
Birthing Pod – Decreased from 3 -> 2
Watchlist post: Birthing Pod is a unique card, in a unique position, that offers (wait for it) a unique style of gameplay. While undeniably powerful, Pod requires several hoops to take full advantage of the namesake, and often opens itself up to the most common pieces of disruption. Often paired with Survival of the Fittest, it is this very pair that causes some hesitation in decreasing the points on Pod. If decreased to 2 points, this opens up a potential spread of Time Walk (6) + Birthing Pod (2) + Survival of the Fittest (2), the defacto Pod spread of years past; albeit without freerolling Gifts Ungiven. The council intends on approaching the discussion of Pod with a wealth of personal experience, and appropriate caution
Most of the critical discussion surrounding the viability of Birthing Pod as a pointed card (and archetype) boils down to the surrounding pieces and not the titular artifact itself. Of those peripheral cards, Time Walk has proven the most contentious, making up a bulk of the original iconic Pod spread, and being a convenient tutor target for the freshly printed Spellseeker. Even so, if all hell breaks loose and a swarm of Faerie Rogue tokens begin the dominate the format, it is the belief of the council that Spellseeker is the true culprit behind such degeneracy.
With Time Walk shenanigans under lock these past few years, Birthing Pod (and creature-combo in general) has struggled to maintain relevancy. One of the reasons being originally favourable match-ups (Control and Midrange strategies, particularly those based in blue) have all gained powerful tools that increase the overall flexibility of the archetypes without damaging their consistency. While cards like Terminate or Disenchant can be near useless in certain matchups, modern replacements like Kolaghan’s Command and Abrade rarely find themselves stranded in hand. During this time period, while creature-combo decks haven’t gone completely ignored, the new additions are often QoL upgrades to previously played utility creatures (Viridian Shaman -> Reclamation Sage -> Knight of Autumn) or density additions (Recruiter of the Guard, Elvish Mystic, etc). So while the council has spent the past seasons slowly toning down the strength of the aforementioned blue decks, the buffs to creature-combo have only began to trickle out in the past year.
As previously mentioned, the council is approaching Birthing Pod with great caution, with eyes peeled to the namesake card, as well as Spellseeker if balance changes are required.
Hermit Druid – Decreased from 1 -> 0 (REMOVED)
Previous justification post: A very strong but fragile build around card. These decks have the ability to win the game as early as turn 3. However with the speed of the format increasing and the prevalence of decks utilizing non-basic land hate such as Blood Moon the deck has been seeing very little play and even less success. Our hope is that in lowering the key card the deck will be able to utilize the additional point to bring it closer to par with the other fast combo decks.
Voting 5-0 (Unanimous):
Honestly, there’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said. In the 2018 landscape, Hermit Druid is far too vulnerable to reliably compete, let alone deserving of a spot on the points list. If a player is brave enough to even sleeve up Druid, the least the council can do is allow them to do so unshackled.