4, Jun, 24

Massive Preemptive MH3 Ban Announcement May Still Fall Short!

Article at a Glance

With Modern Horizons 3 releasing in just over a week, many players are excited to see how various formats get shaken up. This set is filled to the brim with efficient powerhouses and elite haymakers that are sure to bring change to Modern and beyond. If MH1 and MH2 were any indication, some of the best cards may even require bans in short order.

Speaking of which, with MH3 coming to MTG Arena, Wizards of the Coast has decided to preemptively ban a multitude of strong newcomers in Historic. Honestly, most of the bans are not at all surprising given the established ban philosophy. First and foremost, the “free” spells (Special Guest Evoke Elementals and MH3 Flares) all got the axe. Next, cards that severely mess with the opponent’s mana, like Harbinger of the Seas, met the banhammer. Finally, enemy-colored Fetchlands are a no-go.

Given the fact that Blood Moon and the ally-colored Fetchlands were already banned, seeing this many cards banned isn’t surprising. However, some players are questioning whether these bans went far enough. There are a few cards in particular that could turn out to be extremely problematic for Historic and Brawl play. The question is: will players be able to adapt, or will more bans be on the horizon? Let’s discuss.

Incredible Fast Mana

Ugin's Labyrinth

The first card that immediately comes to mind as a potentially busted addition to Historic is Ugin’s Labyrinth. Other sources of fast mana have been banned before, such as Dark Ritual. However, Ugin’s Labyrinth is much more restrictive. You need a huge colorless card to exile to get the extra mana, and the Land itself only produces colorless mana. Many decks can’t use a card like this as a result.

In Modern, players have mostly discussed using Labyrinth in Eldrazi Tron and Affinity shells. Without access to Tron Lands or Eldrazi Temple on MTG Arena, a full-on Eldrazi deck may not meet the mark. Affinity, on the other hand, looks like an extremely promising home for Ugin’s Labyrinth.

Currently, there are a plethora of cheap Artifacts on MTG Arena. Thanks to Historic Anthology 6, the full cycle of Indestructible Artifact Lands from MH2, such as Mistvault Bridge, made their way onto the client. Meanwhile Ornithopter and Springleaf Drum provide some basic acceleration towards your big plays.

Missing out on Urza’s Saga is definitely unfortunate, but Simulacrum Synthesizer and Nettlecyst can create some huge Constructs themselves. Frogmite and Sojourner’s Companion may not be legal, but Myr Enforcer and Thought Monitor are.

All in all, the main thing holding this deck back has been speed. The Bridges all enter play tapped, and without Memnite in the picture, Springleaf Drum isn’t quite as reliable of an accelerant. Labyrinth helps solve this problem. Playing Synthesizer or Nettlecyst a full turn ahead of schedule is huge. The printing of Frogmyr Enforcer to go along with Myr Enforcer should provide enough redundancy for Labyrinth, too. Only time will tell if Labyrinth ends up living up to the hype, but there’s a lot going for it.

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An Amazing Card Advantage Engine


The other card that has the possibility of being a broken engine is Necrodominance. Necrodominance is very reminiscent of Necropotence. Rather than drawing a single card each turn, you get to pay life on your end step to draw as many cards as you want. In this case, you only get to keep a maximum of five cards in hand, but that doesn’t stop Necrodominance from providing a ton of card advantage.

Typically, the main concern for cards like this is that they slot right into combo shells. However, many of the best combo-oriented cards that pair well with Necrodominance, including sources of acceleration like Dark Ritual, are banned. Without ways to turbo out Necrodominance, the card has a much higher chance of being relatively fair.

Some players have mentioned the chance for Necrodominance to appear alongside Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Necrodominance does fit this shell well. It adds plenty of Devotion, and Gray Merchant can help supplement the life loss associated with Necrodominance.

Additionally, Necrodominance pairs nicely with Borne Upon a Wind if you have a lot of mana and life to pay, since you can cast a bunch of cards in your end step before going to discard. It’ll be interesting to see how players continue to try to maximize this card.

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Can Players Adapt?

At the end of the day, as strong as Labyrinth and Necrodominance may end up being, it makes a lot of sense to let the cards run their course. There’s a real possibility neither of these cards are as oppressive as they look in the context of Historic.

As amazing as Labyrinth is as a “Sol” Land, you need to pair it with lots of expensive, colorless cards. On top of that, arguably the best deck in Historic right now (Izzet Wizards) matches up extremely well against Affinity-style decks. Izzet Wizards attacks at blazing speed, and Affinity isn’t a removal dense archetype.

Furthermore, Izzet Wizards comes equipped with a playset of Flame of Anor, which absolutely dunks on Artifacts. So, even slamming a turn one Chalice of the Void off Labyrinth won’t always slow the Wizards deck down as much as you think. Kappa Cannoneer is the one card that trumps Artifact removal thanks to its Ward ability, but Slickshot Show-Off is fully capable of racing the enormous Turtle.

In the case of Necrodominance, a fast start from the Wizards deck backed up by Spell Pierce provides a recipe for success. Ultimately, as strong as these cards are, context of the format matters. Modern Horizons 3 should undoubtedly shake things up in Historic and Brawl, but given the stale nature of these formats, this could be a very good thing. We’re excited to see how the MTG Arena world adapts to one of the strongest sets that’s ever been added to the client.

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