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2013 in Review: The Highlander Points List – Part 2. Points Development


2013 started off with a points list already in effect. The list had been tuned, worked upon, and drastically altered across the experimental trip known as 2012. With the list being functional and tournaments still sporting impressive numbers, the community wasn’t exactly unprepared for the possible advancements of our beloved format. We had something to work off of. We were prepared for anything. Well, anything except Goblins and Storm. That’s a different story entirely though, so let’s get down to the changes that happened across 2013.

January 21st, 2013

Multiple Mox Taxation
Birthing Pod: 3 increased to 4
Enlightened Tutor: 2 increased to 3
Wheel of Fortune: 2 decreased to 1
Life from the Loam: 2 decreased to 1

Turns out, having a Mox is quite a powerful thing. Having multiple “Moxen” is even scarier. While the recorded winning points spreads might not accurately display the dominance of multiple Moxen, they were devastating to play against. Not much has to be said about the strength of free mana, so let’s cut it off at that.

Other increases include both Enlightened Tutor and Birthing Pod. Tutors are miserable. Repeatable tutors are also, in fact, miserable. Increasing tutors gets the BENJAMIN WHEELER SEAL OF APPROVAL. Decreases include Life from the Loam and Wheel of Fortune. While not exactly fair in certain situations, both cards do require very specific deck construction and board set-up in order to be fully deserving of 2 points.

April 29th, 2013


Collector’s Edition Legalized
International Edition Legalized
Championship Deck Legalized
Alpha Edition Legalized
Crucible of Worlds: 2 decreased to 1

While only one change was made to the actual pointing of specific cards, “Gold Bordered” cards were finally allowed within the format. The intent was to quash any notions of money being the deciding factor of the format, as well as opening doors for players not entirely comfortably with committing multiple hundreds of dollars on their desired deck. Our European counterparts have allowed gold-borders for quite some time, and seemed appropriate to follow suit.

July 8th, 2013

Hermit Druid: 3 increased to 5
Black Lotus: 5 increased to 6
Gifts Ungiven: 4 decreased to 3
Price of Progress: 4 decreased to 3
Mishra’s Workshop: 3 decreased to 2
Enlightened Tutor: 3 decreased to 2
Scapeshift: 2 decreased to 1
Natural Order: 2 decreased to 1
Grindstone: 1 decreased to 0

Woah. Change is good. This is a lot of change. “Penny jar on your dresser” amount of change. Hermit Druid made a two point jump; the first time since a certain Workshop pumped out one too many Time Vaults. Since the past points voting, Doomsday combo had been on a tear (courtesy of Brett Frankson), causing Black Lotus to (rightfully) be increased to 6 points.

It is worth noting that late into 2012, the community made a swap from a 7 point system to a 14 point system. This allowed for more flexibility and accuracy when it came to pointing specific cards or strategies. The default change for a subset of cards was to simply double their points. While convenient, it later developed into a situation of many cards being too heavily pointed for their purpose and position in the format. Changes were made to this in the case of Gifts Ungiven, Price of Progress, Scapeshift, etc.

Enlightened Tutor ended up seeing little to no play after being raised to 3 points. The community deemed the inclusion of the card was not “broken” in many ways, shapes or forms. From that, Mirage uncommon found a place in the 2 points club.

September 27th, 2013


(Author’s Note: Love the art, hate the card.)

Sensei’s Divining Top: 1 increased to 2
Goblin Recruiter: 0 increased to 1
Yawgmoth’s Will: 0 increased to 1
Life from the Loam: 1 decreased to 0
Imperial Seal: 4 decreased to 3

Admittedly, I wasn’t in attendance of many of the tournaments within this particular time frame. That said, through the wonders of social media, community and in-store employment, I could scrape together the Mogg Infestation swarming through the warrens of the community. Goblins were in season. Tim MacInnis was on fire, and not just because his lands typically tapped for red mana. Through multiple victories, flexible deck variations and a sliding points configuration from zero to fourteen, it was time to make an attempt at haulting the goblin assault. Goblin Recruiter finally landed a spot on our points list.

As for Top and Yawgmoth’s Will. To this day, I am genuinely surprised at these increases. Makes me regret taking some time off from the format.

Moving Forward

One of the many reasons why Magic is such a great game (no matter the format), is because a player can develop strong connections particular strategies, cards, colours, etc. Many players end up being able to identify as a “Control player” or a “Red Mage”, and their deck choices and card selections more often than not reflect that. This then leads to a personalization aspect of the game, and particularly eternal formats such as Highlander. You can head into a tournament playing the colour(s) you want, the cards you want, with the goal you’ve set for yourself. It is an incredible feeling that I encourage anybody that has even the slightest amount of connection towards to latch on and let it run rampant.

This is a feeling that is shared between players, be they casual, competitive or professional. By professional, I’m not just talking about the iconic players of the game, but about the designers, researchers and developers of Wizards of the Coast. These individuals also connect with the game on a variety of personal levels, but (as I’ve discussed with several) they never let it affect their work. They take a look at these things on an objective level, rather than letting personal feels tamper with the power level of a card/format. Sure, if a set designed by Ken Nagel has a central theme of “Large Creatures”, then he will probably feel inclined to push one or two of these “fatties” to a greater power level than previously achieved. If in testing the card turns out to be a mistake, and such an addition proves to be harmful to a format, I’m sure his devotion to green would not get in the way of his professionalism when dealing with the situation.

What can we make of this?

Do not let personal feelings or attachments to specific cards or strategies get in the way of designing an ideal (and balanced) points list for the format. In addition, do not let the monetary value of a card affect its position on the points list.


Another issue to note, is the formatting in which the voting takes places. With (unfortunately) little to no discussion taking place leading up to the voting, many Highlander players are left going into the event somewhat unprepared. This in combination with personal opinions towards specific people, players, ideas, etc. has lead to somewhat uncomfortable situations for many when it comes to voting. The unfortunate truth is that there are individuals that believe the current system benefits the ideas brought forth by those more adept at public speaking, than those that truly benefit the format. Whether or not that this is indeed the case, it is something worth addressing.

The Council: 


What I am suggesting is not unfamiliar territory. It has been done before, but we can rebuild. We have the technology. Something bigger, stronger, faster and more active than previous attempts.

A Highlander Council responsible for the rules, construction, points list and organization of the (Canadian) Highlander format.

  • The Council would generate discussion amongst the community at a consistent pace. Ensuring the concerns of each player be addressed and taken into consideration.
  • While the community would still voice their opinions on topics such as “Points List Discussion”, the council would have the final word on any changes made to the rules of the format.
  • As opposed to the previous 3 member council, the new incarnation would have anywhere from 4-6 (experienced) members.
  • Each discussion and voting period would follow a systematic and scheduled process, to avoid any confusion amongst the community.

To me, this is the ideal way of handling the development of a format such as Highlander.


This marks the end of Part 2, but I will cap off this series with a conclusion article on possible points/format changes to discuss or consider when coming into 2014.