This morning Wizards of the Coast announced several changes to the banned and restricted list (the “banlist”) for both Magic: The Gathering Modern and Commander. There’s a lot to cover with these changes, so lets jump right into it!
Everyone is tired of the new Hogaak Bridgevine deck at this point. It’s obnoxiously consistent and boasts a win ratio of over 60 percent in game one. It has warped the entire Modern meta around it. Several decks have resorted to main-decking Surgical Extraction just to deal with the deck. This has left many players (and us) hoping for a hit to Hogaak. Thankfully, the deck did: Bridge from Below is now banned.
The card gives you free resources turn after turn and is very difficult for the average deck to interact with. It enables the Hogaak combo kill and is likely to continue to break graveyard decks. With this in mind, WOTC swung the ban hammer. Also in consideration for banning were Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis and Altar of Dementia. However, they were not hit since they were seen less as combo pieces and more as “value engines.”
Not even entering the discussion for banning was Faithless Looting. The red cantrip continues to enable graveyard decks and other degenerate strategies. It is currently the third most played card, with 26 percent of Modern decks using it. Only Leyline of the Void and Lightning Bolt rank higher. Also, Stoneforge Mystic and Splinter Twin were not mentioned as possible unbannings, despite player outcry for them to come back. If you want to read the full statement by WOTC, check out the official announcement.
The format of 99 cards saw two bannings and one unbanning. Many players have been unhappy with the inconsistency of their banned and restricted list and were hoping that this new list would bring a small overhaul to the format. Whether or not these changes are exactly what the format needed remains to be seen. The first of these much-anticipated bans is Paradox Engine.
The 5-mana artifact has been notorious since day one. Players were quick to recognize its combo potential. It was swiftly slotted into many decks and soon became infamous. Long, obnoxious combos became the norm. What made it the absolute worst was how long it took for combos to play out. Tapping and untapping, floating a bunch of mana, and then *maybe* finding a win condition were often enough to put many players to sleep. There’s little-to-no cost to inserting it into any deck, and so it had to go. Perhaps this signals that more degenerate combo pieces will be hit in the future.
Nobody likes being locked out of the game, but Iona, Shield of Emeria did just that to too many mono-colored decks. She’s easy to reanimate and doesn’t serve much of a purpose other than as a hate piece. She’s now banned, so the feel-bad moment of “I can’t play the game,” will hopefully happen a bit less often. The banning is somewhat out of left field for many players. No one really expected the card to be hit, rather something more along the lines of Mana Crypt. Either way, we highly doubt anyone will complain about not seeing the card across the table.
Painter’s Servant is now back in EDH. Many players might wonder why it was banned in the first place. Sure, the effect is odd, but it doesn’t seem too crazy on its surface level. However, the card veils a massive amount of combo potential. Pair it with the now-banned Iona (Maybe that’s why she had to go.) and suddenly everyone can’t play the game. A Grindstone activation with it instantly mills out any player. Any card that blows up colored permanents suddenly kills lands (such as All Is Dust). No doubt about it, the card is very powerful. It’ll be interesting to see how players utilize it in the coming months. If you want to read a full explanation about the Commander changes, check out the official post.
Overall, these changes are sure to shake up both Magic: The Gathering Modern and Commander. However, the new lists felt lacking in changes and left many players feeling there should be more cards banned (and unbanned). Modern is quickly becoming too fast for many rogue decks, and Commander has much more degenerate lockout and combo pieces still on the loose. However, only time will tell whether more action needs to be taken.
Do you agree with the Magic changes? Is there a Magic card you wanted banned (or to come back) that got passed over? Let us know down in the comments below!
I’m a veterinary student based out of Illinois. I enjoy (and sometimes stream) Shadowverse and MTG in my spare time. Follow me on twitch at https://www.twitch.tv/elpieps