RnD has really shaken up things this Monday with their (un)bannings and restrictions of all sorts of cards. You can read the B&R announcement here. Let’s take a little dive into what this means and what I will be doing with it!
The Modern (Un)Bannings
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis is banned in Modern
Probably not too many surprises that this monster got the hammer. I won’t dive too deeply into this specific ban since removing it from the format is what we all were hoping for – except for Simon Nielsen, but I hope that he is fine with what he achieved with the card and congrats to him for a magnificent GP run with roughly 85% victories in played games. I would have wanted that they simply swapped it for Bridge from Below and by that stating in a non-verbal way that “yeah, we should have gone for the head” – now Bridge is an innocent collateral victim.
Faithless Looting is banned in Modern
Too many people are surprised this card got the hammer. Funnily enough, it is only surprising because Hogaak was on everyone’s lips the past couple of months and they completely forgot about the last 1-2 years where they have been screaming in the void for a Looting ban. We got it, and it leaves the Modern format in a whole new situation where the top 5 (maybe more) Tier1 decks that acted from the graveyard got seriously hit (Phoenix, Dredge, Hogaak, Mardu Pyromancer and even Hollow One). That puts new strategies and new sideboard options on the table. If we look back just 1,5 years, a lot of crazy things have happened to the format from a spot where Lantern, Mardu, Storm, Humans and Hollow One were the talk of town, then Tron and Humans, then Dredge, then Phoenix and finally Hogaak. Most of these decks have a shell that involves Faithless Looting, so the ban leaves them with an entirely different shell or at least less ability to be as explosive as they have to be in order to succeed in the format. It will be interesting to see if people find ways around this or just soldier through and try it regardless of the Looting ban.
Stoneforge Mystic is unbanned in Modern
The reason I’m not going completely out of my mind in excitement about the Faithless Looting ban, is because it is only the tip of the iceberg, and I am quite frankly shellshocked by this particular unbanning (and some of the later cards on the list).
For longer than I can remember, people wanted this to be unbanned so much, it has become the meme of the formats speed, brokenness and everything that had a negative tone. It has risen in price, due to speculations in almost every banning round, but for some reason that didn’t happen this time around. We finally get Jace, the Mind Sculptors and Batterskulls best friend, our little Kor Artificer.
I have played my fair share of Stoneforge Mystics in my Death and Taxes and Standard time (along with the mentioned Jace) and I love the card but I also am a bit afraid, since the card combined with Sword of the Meek and Batterskull can be a force to be reckoned with, maybe even too much. However, I am also in the camp of us going a little crazy and trying to unban and see what happens, it is only a white squire with an upside for crying out loud!
I think in the next couple of months this card will be on everyone’s radar, Modern grinders will be using night and day to try and break it into old shells and form new ones. This is the wonderful thing about unbannings, that they open so many new doors and welcome old and new fringe and tier strategies.
The first Stoneforge deck that comes to mind
My first reaction was UW Urza, since the engine is insane and we now have a tutor effect for Sword of the Meek, while also having a stabilizer against aggressive decks through Batterskull – it even plays around most artifact hate cards. The above are insane together I assume, and as a topping on our cake, we get to play Teferi, Time Raveler, who was struggling to find a good shell in Modern outside of UW Control, and I finally think we will get to see him in action in a shell like this. Unfortunately, I am not the only one who thought about this, so I will leave you with a decklist of the one and only Mr. Artifact, Piotr “Kanister” Glokowski.
Esper Urza by Kanister
This is a rough sketch and I don’t exactly know if the black is where I want to be, but having Arcum’s Astrolabes and Mox Opals, 3 colors is definitely not out of the options that such a sweet deck gives us.
Where the format might be heading
Wrenn and Four colors to play Stoneforge with
My other direction would be to try and explore into some Jund/Junk archetypes and include the Stoneforge package. With not many Blood Moons running around, we could go in a direction of 4 colors with Wrenn and Six, Tarmogoyf and Stoneforge Mystic being our two drops, and then the rest somewhat similar to a list we already know. I would however probably include a card like Sword of Light and Shadow. The ability is kind of good against decks that we fear like Burn, but also against some of the removal that is crucial when we play against our tougher matchups like Fatal Push and Path to Exile, even a bounce from Teferi can sometimes be crucial, so having access to the Michael Jackson protection could be where the format is heading.
The Standard Unbanning
The Dino was innocent after all
I love the fact that they released this cute dinosaur from its jail, but I don’t really know how much impact it will have in the next 4 weeks while it’s still legal. But hopefully, someone has a sweet list that will crush one of the MPL or Fandom events and give it its deserved welcome back.
The Vintage Restrictions
The Hammer Strikes against Shops
If it wasn’t enough with the early Christmas present in the Modern bannings and unbannings, we have a big shakeup in Vintage as well. I love playing Vintage, and I would have enjoyed playing in the former metagame, but it was a lot of the same decks. This will hopefully open the meta a little bit, leaving some room for some of the more fringe decks, that really are enjoyable to play with and play against.
Karn Liberated and Mystic Forge are restricted in Vintage
Some people want to kill off Mishra’s Workshop, since it is the reason that all of these decks are super broken in the first place, and I can definitely see that it would be an option. Sam Black wrote something along the lines, that eventually the restricted list of Vintage will be a list of a MUD Highlander deck with 4 Workshops. I found it quite funny, and probably not far from the truth with the pace of bannings within the last 3-ish years. I do however like Workshop being in the format, and the whole dance around trying to break it and people trying to metagame against it.
The above cards led to some pretty busted draws with turn 1 and 2 kills with a Karn and a Mystic Forge combined with Sensei’s Divining Top, which wasn’t fun for anyone. Since most of the hate towards the deck was in Null Rod type cards that made for non-games on both sides of the battlefield. I am looking forward to see if the Shops lists go back to their former Spheres and Taxing plan, the Aggro Arcbound Ravager plan or something completely new.
Golgari Grave-Troll is restricted in Vintage
Just like the above mention of Mishra’s Workshop, Bazaar of Baghdad goes into the same broken strategy that one of the “pillar” decks of the format revolves around. Dredge is a menace that you have to (and have always had to) respect and dedicate an amount (often 6 or more) of sideboard cards to in order to beat it or at least stand a chance. Bazaar not being taken away is fine, even though I hate Dredge as a deck and I kinda like that they for once tried to target it a little bit with the Troll ban. With the inclusion of a lot of the new Modern Horizons cards the Pitch version of the deck (Force of Will, Force of Negation, Force of Vigor – you exile/pitch a card to play them for free, therefore Pitch Dredge) the decks engine and explosiveness is already a little flattened out. Not having Troll would leave you to think that the deck would just take the next dredger in line in Golgari Thug, but losing 4 green creatures in the deck makes Force of Vigor almost impossible to cast, so I would image that people will look into some of the other green dredge cards that are less powerful but enables the power of a card like Force of Vigor. This is already being done in some of the current lists, and if most of the dredgers all have dredge 3, then it will be a huge benefit for dredges opponents since the Bazaar activation will hit a maximum of 4 cards on average for each card drawn. We will see how much of a problem this is for the dredge deck and/or if new decks with for example Hogaak will rise more to the top of the food chain.
Fastbond is unrestricted in Vintage
I played during the Fastbond/Gush metagame, and in the decks that utilized the brokenness of Fastbond it looked insane. But it is hard to say if it was the combination of the two or actually just Gush being the broken card it is, and just another way of making the best out of that card. But this unrestriction may or may not be something that makes any notable changes, but it makes for some interesting deck ideas and builds that you get with such a unique card.
I would image that we will see a lot of the Vintage powerhouses in BrianPK and crew trying to break this card in as many ways as possible and finally find a shell that will be a tier1 or tier1.5 deck and if that is what is in the horizon then I am really looking forward the upcoming challenges, leagues, MTGO playoffs and the end of year Eternal Weekends in Paris and Pittsburg. But for now, my head simply can’t wrap itself around what the impacts of this card can be.
Mental Misstep is restricted in Vintage
The restriction of this card opens the door for a long lost friend: Storm. Storm has been a hard deck to play with so many counterspells running around, but now we might see it get back in business. Many decks played 2 or 3 Missteps, making it not that big of a hit, but for some decks this could be a huge deal which means they lose the ability to interact in the early turns, while applying pressure. The upside is that you get a bit better against Shops decks, since it’s an auto cut against those decks, but it leaves you a bit more open to some of the broken cards. If Storm isn’t going to be all over the place, I could see this as a great way of making a lot of Vintage games a bit more broken and it will lead to us seeing a lot of crazy things, where the 1-off Mental Misstep can be an insane card to have drawn in the game.
I think that with the bannings we will see a huge meta open itself. This will bring back Xerox and Survival as contenders for tier1 decks and most certainly it will see a rise in Storm and Paradoxical Outcome decks. Then we will get to see how far Thalia, BUG and Collector Ouphe decks can fight, when so many broken decks are running around and with a potential decline in BUG we might see the good ol’ Oath being dusted off and making its 2019 entry. Vintage has a lot of decks floating around and this will definitely make some of them potentially good decks, I can’t wait and I love what they have done.
On my twitter I have made a potential build of Death and Taxes – or monowhite control as we tend to call it. In the Modern Super League we introduced an Esper Urza Blade and an Abzan Forge deck. The possibilities are endless – and I give you the torch to go and find them!
Until next time
This article was written by Michael Bonde in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com