The discussion about tutors in Highlander is as old as the format itself. After years on the watch list, we now decided to take Demonic Tutor from the watchlist. Tainted Pact will stay for now. This has the following reasons. First and foremost, we are quite happy with the banned/unbanned status of the tutors today. Of the really powerful tutors Demonic Tutor, Tainted Pact, Imperial Seal, Vampiric Tutor, Mystical Tutor, Enlightened Tutor and Worldly Tutor, the latter two are of a manageable power level, because they create card disadvantage and their scope is somewhat limited. Demonic Tutor and Imperial Seal on the other hand have a maximal scope but are much slower at sorcery speed, which we deem also ok. Vampiric Tutor and Mystical Tutor on the other hand, are not only instant but the breadth of their scope pushes them over the top in terms of power level. Finally Tainted Pact is a somewhat complicated animal. It is instant and has a very large scope, however it restricts deckbuilding to a significant degree and some combos can’t really make use of it because they risk to exile other necessary combo pieces. Our experience is, that Tainted Pact is ok in good-stuff decks however the printing of Laelia, the Blade Reforged and related effects prevented a majority for taking it of the watchlist too.
Modern Horizons II introduced many powerful new staples to our format. A standout of these is Urza’s Saga. Being a land makes it exceptionally hard to interact with, while generating a board presence and tutoring value engines (Retrofitter Foundry, Skullclamp), hate pieces (Relic of Progenitus, Pithing Needle) or combo pieces (Zuran Orb, Expedition Map, Grindstone). It finds inclusion in all archetypes and might be overly powerful in comparison to the rest of the format. The singleton nature of Highlander emphasizes its strength even more, being a land, threats and value in just one card. We do want to watch its development closer and have the possibility to take action against it if necessary.
In the last update we stated our vision of combo decks in the format. Therefore there is currently no reason to keep Thassa’s Oracle on the Watchlist for the moment.
Discussion of Skullclamp and Umezawa’s Jitte:
Half of the testphase of the unbanning of Skullclamp and Umezawa’s Jitte is now over and at this point we would like to ask you how your feeling are about those cards in Highlander. For that reason we will start discussions here in the Forum as well as on Facebook within the next week and want to encourage you to tell us your experiences with those cards. Additionally, you are welcome to write any of us directly or use the council email for direct feedback.
Use of Proxies in European Highlander:
We noticed the recurring discussions about the use of proxies1 or playtest cards2 in highlander, as the price of decks and cards always increases. That’s why we need to state that we cannot decide for or against the use of those at all. The use of proxies is completely with the tournament organizers and these are usually bound to the specifications given by WotC. The boundaries between proxies, playtest cards and counterfeits are partly fluid and subjective. This means there is a possibility for store owners to lose their contracts if they allow those on sanctioned tournaments or even if people play with those in their store. Additionally, the harm of counterfeits3 is imminent and not only hurts the store but is also a legal offense that a tournament organizer cannot permit.
All in all we cannot give any regulations for the use of proxies / playtest cards in the format as we are not in charge here. And of course as we want to support our local games stores we cannot recommend to allow proxies or playtest cards on official tournaments. However, we want to support the use of playtest cards in any casual environment outside of a tournament. And last but not least we want to distance ourselves from ANY counterfeits. Using, buying, selling etc these is a legal offense and we would never accept these in any tournament nor store environment.
1Proxies = a placeholder card given out by a judge as a replacement e.g. for a marked or damaged card during a tournament; only legal for this specific tournament; c.f.: Magic Tournament Rules 3.4 (status: July 23, 2021) 2Playtest cards = what players really mean if they talk about proxies; a placeholder for a card in your deck, not legal on official WotC tournaments 3Counterfeits = a fake card; something that imitates a card produced by WotC; Proxies and playtest cards that are not immediately recognizable as those are also included here
Dungeon-Mechanic in European Highlander:
Dungeons aren’t cards in the traditional sense, but are regarded more as tokens. They can’t go into your deck, and their main function is as a specialized progress marker. That’s fine in Highlander and they’ll work as normal. We take the very same stance on Dungeons as has been taken in Commander.