Thoughts after a game with Bugle two nights ago:
Desert Road is a failed attempt at a card that the game really wants (needs?). The game has multiple answers for event-based and resource-based removal attacks (e.g. Mimics), but the only defense against friend-based removal (e.g. Tom, Meadowbrook) is Desert Road. The problem with Desert Road is three-fold:
- It’s a resource. Resource removal is in 5 colors, hard-removal is in 4 colors, and hard colorless removal is available in all formats. Simply put, DR is easy and likely to be removed.
- It’s expensive. In the early game, it takes two turns of a typical deck to accumulate enough AT to play it. Meanwhile, single-target resource removal costs 2 AT. In the mid-game, it still takes an entire turn’s worth of AT to play, robbing the player of any additional action for an entire turn. In the late game, well… in most games, late game is too late for DR.
- It has a 4-power requirement in a splash color (we’ll ignore GP’s mono-orange deck for now, as it’s so new, even thought it looks pretty nasty). 4 orange requirement in a deck that is not primarily orange is steep. Orange has strong cards that supplement other strategies (Big Eater, Midnight, Golden Parachute etc.), and when those cards are needed, it’s pretty easy to splash them into their appropriate decks. However, it’s too hard to do that with DR, especially since the decks that need it most (TM control) already have primary and secondary colors (typically purple and white).
These three factors make Desert Road a pretty worthless card.
Maybe I’m biased by my recent games, but I feel like a more easily accessed answer to enter-play effects could be a healthy part of the meta. BRB was a solidly oppressive deck, and we continue to see variants in the core meta even without Interdimensional Portal, as evidenced by the banning of Old Money. The answer does not need to be a resource, or a permanent, either. Golden Parachute and Brian have both proven to be effective ways to mitigate the impact of oppressive removal. They’re cheap, have low requirements to use, and to balance this they are single use items. We’ve seen pseudo cancel effects before, where a cost is paid to have a card in play stop an event, even though that even has already been played. The game has room for a lot of solutions, any of which needs to answer at least one, if not all three, of the problems with the sad, lonely, failed card that is Desert Road.