Banning’s, Unbanning’s and One Dead Theme Song

Today, I was going to show off a Legacy deck I’ve been working on for quite a while now. It was going to be a mad concoction of elves, dinosaurs, and snakes that would have you questioning my sanity while at the same time making you want to sleeve it up for your next local Legacy tournament. That was the plan.

Then Wizards of the Coast decided to shake the foundations of not one, but three formats with some major bannings and a few notable unbannings. So, I decided to put my deck tech on hold and address the latest Banned and Restricted announcement, looking at what this could mean for one of my favourite formats.

’m not going to be addressing the changes to Standard and Vintage in this article. The fact is that while Rampaging Ferocidon might have somewhat of an impact on Standard, it will only be around for a little over a month before it rotates out for good, so it doesn’t feel like it’ll have much of a chance to make waves in the format.

As for Vintage? Well, I don’t play it, so anything I would say on the subject would not be of much value to you Vintage players out there. Modern on the other hand, well that is something that I know quite a bit about.

What we lost!

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis only came onto the scene a little over two months ago with the release of Modern Horizons, but boy did it have an impact. Quickly rising to the top of the food chain, it cemented it’s place in the format, posting many high place finishes in a variety of Brigdevine decks. At first, it seemed like this was just the newest craze and players theorised that the meta would shift to handle this latest threat. But it didn’t.

Despite some players’ best efforts to keep Hogaak down, more and more were instead picking up the deck, and it’s not hard to see why when you can reliably get an 8/8 with trample onto the battlefield as early as turn two. Wizards of the Coast tried to take the legs out from under the deck by banning Bridge from Below to remove the combo finish that Hogaak players would sometimes exploit, but this had little to no effect on the deck’s dominance of the Modern meta. Even our very own Chris Vincent believed that Hogaak needed to be hit with the banhammer, and it only seemed like a matter of time before something would be done about it.

Well, it finally seems WoTC and the Magic community have had enough, as yesterday Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis was placed on the Banned & Restricted list. While I agree that Hogaak deserved to be banned, I don’t believe it’s the biggest news we received on Monday. While the banning of Hogaak will have a huge impact on the Modern meta, it’s only Hogaak players that will miss the Gaak. After all, its not like this Legendary Creature was the corner stone to a bunch of other strategies. The same cannot be said for Faithless Looting.

Many players have argued that something needed to be done about Faithless Looting for a while now. Whenever a deck has become a problem recently, it almost always seems to have something to do with this one mana sorcery. Hollow One, Arclight Phoenix, and Dredge have all, at some point in the last couple of years, come under fire for using Faithless Looting to load up their graveyard and draw into gas. But it always seemed like that was the reason Looting wouldn’t receive the banhammer treatment – it was used in so many decks that banning seemed too disruptive.

Afterall, if you banned Faithless Looting, you would not only be hurting one deck, but a whole host of other builds and brews. But I guess a card can only damage a format so much until it needs to be dealt with.

Make no mistake, the banning of Faithless Looting will have the biggest impact of any of the Banned & Restricted announcements since Eldrazi Winter. So many decks are going to have to change in order to fill the void, and some just might not be able to keep up in the format with Looting gone. If you thought that only one deck was going to be vanishing from the top tables, you are about to be in for a rude awakening.

But WoTC didn’t just take away from the Modern format. They also give us a real humdinger of a card that I thought we would never see unbanned.

What we gained!

There is no point in drawing it out. Stoneforge Mystic in unbanned in Modern.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of playing against a Stoneforge Mystic, congratulations. You haven’t had to deal with someone playing a Batterskull on turn three and running away with the game. But all jokes aside, this is a long overdue unbanning and will make a lot of people very happy.

The reason Stoneforge Mystic has spent so long on the Banned & Restricted list is the long-held fear that together with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, we would see a Modern version of Cawblade that would dominate the top tables like it did back when it was in Standard. The simple fact of the matter is that this is very unlikely to happen, for a few reasons.

Firstly, while Stoneforge Mystic is a great Magic card, it is just too easy to deal with in the current Modern meta. There is no shortage of ways to kill a Stoneforge once it has hit the table. Lightning Bolt, Fatal Push, and Path to Exile are all super-effective removal spells that can easily deal with this handy two drop. And while Giver of Runes can be a roadblock to straight-up removal, it doesn’t protect equipment from discard spells or artifact removal.

In addition, the quality of efficient removal spells has only gotten better since the days of Cawblade Standard. Back then, we didn’t have cards like Kolaghan’s Command that can attack this kind of strategy in so many ways. Also, we have already seen Jace unbanned in the format, and while he has had some impact, it hasn’t been the meta-shaping planeswalker we all feared he would be.

All in all, I feel this is a great unbanning that will only help to strengthen some lower-tier decks and give them the push they need. The only real impact that we will see is the loss of Pleasant Kenobi’s favourite theme song.

That was my take on the Modern Banned and Restricted announcements, but I’m keen to hear what you all have to say about it. Is this good for the format? Is it bad? What will Vince sing about next? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure you like and subscribe to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics.

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