What follows, dear Paupers, is a needlessly epic justification and explanation of my forthcoming blockbuster PDC event, which will occur [b]Monday[/b] evenings in [b]/join BPDC[/b]. Registration will be at [b]8:30pm[/b] and play will commence 30 minutes later. Our first event, BPDC 1.01, will be held on January 14, 2008. The format will be [i]Kamigawa[/i] Block Pauper. I hope to see everyone there to help kick off a series with one of the smallest, if not THE smallest, legal cardpools in PDC history!

[b]I. The Placenta of Genius: Conceiving (and Gestating) BPDC[/b]
Back in October when one PDC season was coming to a close and the next one about to begin, I was already devising a departure from my normal post as host of [b]UPDC[/b]. The reason was simple: Sunday afternoons no longer fit my schedule, and I needed a weeknight if I was to continue hosting a regular event. However, a lot of the philosophies I had brought to UPDC were still quite important to me (and, evidently, the players), and I wanted my new event (whatever that ended up being) to carry with it these values.
During UPDC Season 1, I had experimented with alternating four-week periods of Standard and [i]Time Spiral[/i] Block formats. Most events stick with one format (except for the occasional alternate weeks), and based on recent activity on the forums, that’s just how the community likes it. However, UPDC’s flirtations with the [i]Time Spiral[/i] Block format proved to enamor many of our regulars. We pushed 20 or more players regularly during our second Block period, and we had some players who showed up only for that format (eschewing the Standard periods). The opposite was true, too, but a turnout of 20 at a Pauper Block event was nothing to shake a stick at.
I have always been an avid devotee of Pauper Block environments. Back when the [b]Princes of Pauper[/b] were holed up on Salvation and our numbers few, I spent a lot of energy rallying my clanmates to design [i]Ravnica[/i] Block Pauper, or RBP, decks. That never seemed to go anywhere, and from that experience onward I’d considered Block to be a dirty word among Paupers (and especially the highly competitive and Classic-loving PDC community).
However, the success I experienced with UPDC Season 1′s periods of [i]Time Spiral[/i] Block enboldened me, and made me think seriously about an ALL Block PDC event. I quickly discovered that for every PDC’er who loves the wide cardpool of Classic, there’s one who, whether by choice or by necessity, prefers a smaller and more easily manageable cardpool. Even if the event didn’t draw huge weekly crowds, I thought, at least I would be providing the PDC community with a totally new format, and an opportunity for fans of Block formats to “get their PDC on.”
I also love the process of discovering a whole new metagame (see also: Future Extended), and the thought of doing this twice every season was just too much to pass up on. Thus, when the time came to make preparations for [i]Lorwyn[/i] season, I decided to call it quits on UPDC and move my hosting efforts to Monday evening EST, launching the next phase of the UPDC evolution, and calling it Block PDC, or BPDC for short.
Before I got very far, however, I stopped to consider the fate of this fledgling event.
I think most of us here at PDC have at least dabbled, if not totally immersed ourselves, in the Standard format. Those of us who are not regulars, however, may not realize the significance of a rotation. (Classic by definition HAS no rotation, and Extended isn’t slated to rotate until October 2008.) However, with the coming of [i]Lorwyn[/i] and the departure of [i]Ravnica[/i], a total sea change in the Standard metagame was upon us. I figured a whole lot of PDC eyes would be turned to Standard, and I didn’t think the time was right to launch a fledgling event with an experimental, minor-league format. With only the second format rotation ever in Standard PDC history, and the first one in a relatively thorough era of data collection and metagame tracking, the last thing I wanted was to compete for players or attention. So I shelved the project, instead opting to help 53N531 out as he took control of the good ship UPDC, and conducted a massive experiment on the PDC community called [b]PDC League 1[/b].
Now that [i]Lorwyn[/i] Standard has proven to be a monotonous bust, and with the coming of the new year and a whole host of new tools in the form of the [b]Gatherling database[/b], I’m more eager than ever to fire up Block PDC. The first Block event, BPDC 1.01, is scheduled for Monday, January 14. Registration will begin at [b]8:30pm EST[/b] in [b]/join BPDC[/b] (as with all weeknight events), and play will commence at 9pm. I plan on running four rounds of Swiss play followed by at least a Top 4 playoff on a weekly basis, depending on turnout.
Our initial Block format will be [b][i]Kamigawa[/i] Block[/b], which includes [i]Champions of Kamigawa[/i], [i]Betrayers of Kamigawa[/i], and [i]Saviors of Kamigawa[/i]. Why [i]Kamigawa[/i]? Why not a block more people actually like? Read on, gentle Pauper.
[b]II. Kamigawa, I Hardly Knew Ye[/b]
I want [b]BPDC[/b] to be successful, and so it may strike some of you h8rs as odd that I have chosen the most contentious block, [i]Kamigawa[/i], with which to launch this event.
[i]Kamigawa[/i] is the most flavorful block Wizards has created. The flavor shines through most tastily at the common level. Thus, [i]Kamigawa[/i] Block Pauper is the most flavorful Magic experience possible. It’s not a universally-loved flavor, like chocolate or trans fat; it’s more like black licorice. It inspires passionate devotees and reviling despisers.
[i]Kamigawa[/i] Block Pauper provides a unique experience that isn’t possible in any larger cardpool. The mechanics of Kami block are quite “insular” — meaning, they don’t play well outside of block. This has caused quite a few negative attitudes about the block as whole, and some very good players are as a result unwilling to touch the IDEA of the block. I argue, however, that the very insularity so many rage against is actually one of the strengths of the block format. You get to use the cards, IN their insular environment, and really see what the block is all about. Cards that are overwhelmed by more powerful cards in other blocks get a chance to stretch out and even to shine in Kamigawa block.
Plus, [i]Kamigawa[/i] is my favorite block, and I’m the host, so my bias rules the day.
I am hoping that some of the naysayers give this format a chance. Break down your stereotypes and unfounded preconceptions about the block! It’s a low-power environment, but that makes every play decision all the more important! That makes a solid deck design even more critical! That makes every ounce of card advantage you can squeeze out of the set all the more vital!
I [u]know[/u] that [i]Kamigawa[/i] block is underappreciated. I expect [b]BPDC[/b] to unveil a whole new reality to some of us.
[b]III. Winning the Spirit War[/b]
What is [i]Kamigawa[/i] block all about? Let’s have a look.
* [b]Bad lifegain[/b]. There is no Blind Hunter here, no Aven Riftwatcher to ruin your day. Expect mono-red to have more than a fighting chance. (On top of that, there are many good burn spells in this block.)
* [b]Bad tokens[/b]. Meloku and the green shrine aside, Kamigawa Block wasn’t terribly focused on token-production. If you want token creatures, you’re going to need Spiritual Visit or Dripping-Tongue Zubera, and both of those are a spore cry… er, a FAR cry… from Sprout Swarm.
* [b]Shimmering Glasskite rules[/b]. This is blue’s finisher and it is good. There’s not much in the sky that can take it on, and removing it is another challenge. I recommend Traproot Kami for starters.
* [b]Comes-into-play abilities aren’t insane.[/b] Unless you’re focusing on Spiritcraft (triggers when you [u]play[/u] a Spirit or Arcane spell), creatures matter more once they’re IN play than as they’re arriving. Creatures with multiple purposes are still better than their vanilla brethren. (Kami of Ancient Law, or KoALa for short, is a great example of a multi-purpose creature.) Making use of Spiritcraft or Soulshift (a graveyard recursion mechanic) are ways of getting some degree of card advantage, as is the use of Splice (though that doesn’t relate to creatures).
* [b]Color-fixing sucks.[/b] This ain’t [i]Time Spiral[/i] block, folks. You’re going to have to be gutsy indeed to run more than two colors in a deck without access to green. And while you’re collecting all your colors, the mono-red or mono-black decks are going to crush your skull in. If multi-color decks do get to be a problem, there are three colors of land destruction waiting to solve that problem. I expect mono-colored decks to do better in this format than multi-colored decks.
* [b]Creature combat is critical[/b]. Unless you’re playing Ire (which, let’s face it, is a bad idea), you’re going to be running creatures, and you’re going to be sending them into the red zone. Creature combat and combat math are going to be a major part of this gaming experience. Kabuto Moth sees a lot of play because he does a fantastic job of scarying up combat math for the opponent. Bushido gives a great edge in combat situations, and cards like Zuberas make ground warfare quite frustrating for the enemy. The threat of ninjas, which usually produce a massive tempo swing, make blocking (or thinking about how you block) important. A turn 1 Frostling swinging at you on turn 2 with an untapped Island on the board makes for a terrifying catch-22. In addition, several highly played Kami block cards pertain to blocking in some way: Shinen of Life’s Roar, Wicked Akuba, Nezumi Cutthroat, etc. Lastly, my notes say that several creatures across all colors have instant-speed effects that change their quality. I’ll get back to you on what I meant by that. (Probably something like Sokenzan Spellblade.)
* [b]Only one sweeper[/b]. Yamabushi’s Storm is it if you want to wipe out a mass of X/1s, but there’s no mass +0/+X effects, so the Storm will do the trick nicely. Again, this makes combat math important.
As you can see, the format is quite different from any other that PDC currently supports. Kamigawa Block Pauper is sure to be a unique, rewarding, and fun experience, and I can’t think of a better block to start BPDC with than [i]Kamigawa[/i]!

9 Responses to “THE COMING OF BPDC”

  1. BweeBwee says:

    I actually like kamigawa block a lot, for reasons completely other than flavor. I just think that it was well designed, with cool mechanics (splice, ninjutsu, wisdom, not soulshift though), and a few really cool, good cards like sakura-tribe elder, death denied, ninja of the deep hours. The only problem with the block was that the spirit and arcane theme only really worked within the block, which obviously won’t be a concern in KBC :-) . I’m looking forward to this event a lot.

  2. inlovingmemory says:

    no doubt i hate this kami block. i stopped playing magic for a while because of this block. i hate everything about it from the setting to the mechanics. i have no idea what soulshift is/does and i barely grasp what splice is after fumbling through an ire deck in solitaire a few times. when someone in casual plays with this stuff i usually ignore it or concede because i dont consider it to be a real part of magic.
    having said that, heres the point: i hate this block but its still 10 times better than lorwyn.
    2nd point: i hate this block but im still going to do as you said and give it a shot. i hope others who have reservations about it will do the same because playing with a lot of people is always better than playing with a few.

  3. TGD says:

    I’ve been playing matches whenever I can and so far it’s been really fun. Sakura and Kodama’s Reach are two of my favorite green cards ever. I do worry that there will not be a rock-paper-scissors meta, where one archetype completely outclasses the rest (and I have an idea which one that is), but I hope I’m wrong and I’m having fun trying to figure it out. I love that it is only one month. Such a small pool could be figured out quickly and become stagnant, but this time frame seems to keep things changing just in time. It’s long enough to figure out the format, but short enough so that players don’t become bored and give up trying to beat the dominant deck. Kudos, these month long block formats should be a LOT of fun!

  4. Technik4 says:

    I didn’t like Kamigawa block at all. I thought most of the cards were underpowered with a few bombs unevenly distributed across the colors. They made a lot of legends, but didn’t bother making most of them special. I deplore flip cards. I realize those aspects aren’t present in BPDC and would give it a try if I had the cards to do so. As I don’t, I think I’ll skip it.

  5. Boin says:

    Technik4 a lot of the things you dislike about kami block arn’t in effect in pdc. There are no flip cards and more or less no legends. As it is pdc there are no real bombs.

  6. Polyjak says:

    Man, Splice and flip cards are my two all-time favorite mechanics in Magic history.
    I really wish they’d made common flip cards. Those things make my Johnny sense tingle.
    Sorry to hear you won’t be joining us for Kami Block, Technik. Hopefully Ravnica Block suits you better.

  7. eegag says:

    Nice article, Jak. I have to echo TGD – the idea of rotating Block formats is excellent. Yeah, they do have limited card pools, but the way in which BPDC is setup allows us just enough time to get a good taste of the format without it becoming a bore.
    I am looking forward to January 14!

  8. lathspel says:

    I love the idea, I wish I were available more on Mondays as this sounds really cool. I consider myself a devotee of Kami block as well – I don’t think it gets the respect it deserves in terms of overall design or flavor.
    One question – is BPDC going to be 16 weeks of Kami block? Or will it rotate 4 of Kami block, 4 of some other block, etc.? I’m not totally clear on how the season will play out.
    I’m not sure how many Kami block events have occurred as alternate events in the past; based on the unpopularity of it, I’m guessing not many. It may be that TPDC 1.5 is the ONLY Kamigawa block Pauper event that’s in the books (which would make me the defending champ ;) ). In which case, here are the decklists and discussion:
    My view of the metagame from back then was that
    U/B or U/G was the deck to beat – decks with disruption and creatures tended to beat the pure Splice decks. I could see 5-color Green Zubera/Spirit decks being the dark horse of the format. I also can see a definite place for a Red Deck Wins style approach, capitalizing on the fact that Splice and Soulshift strategies are both mana intensive and will tend to be slow and/or require significant color commitments.
    I’m looking forward to seeing how the season plays out!

  9. Anonymous says:

    this is the worst block ever, and we already have evidence that mono black and RW spiritcraft aggro are the only two viable decks, with RW being dominant. i love block formats, and i cant wait to get to one worth playing, but this format blows, count me out.

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