Ponder | Secret Lair
11, Mar, 24

MTG Finally Bans Modern Menace and Unrestricts One Card

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As interesting and fun as new cards are, few things are as exciting in MTG as bans. Capable of massively shaking up a format and balancing a format-breaking deck, there’s no denying their awesome and important potential. Thankfully, while they can cause a shake-up, bans aren’t nearly as volatile as before, as now they’re on a fixed schedule.

Occurring after the release of each premier MTG set, players now know when each ban wave will happen. For better or worse, this has ramped up the excitement surrounding bans to newfound levels. With players predicting their hopes and dreams for what Wizards will change, pre-ban speculation is a dangerous whirlwind.

While all-caps speculation may be fun, several formats have arguably been needing major bans. Unfortunately, now that new latest MTG bans have been announced, it seems that Wizards has missed the mark on some of these. Thankfully, while Standard is being left alone, Wizards of the Coast hasn’t ignored their duty.

In the latest MTG bans, one card has been banned while another is now unrestricted. As always, these changes are in effect as of today, March 11th, 2024.

Violent Outburst Is Banned

Violent Outburst

Just as we and many MTG players predicted, Violent Outburst has been banned in Modern. Considering Violent Outburst was a key piece within multiple dominant Cascade decks, this isn’t a surprise at all. With how much Cascade was dominating the Modern metagame, there’s no denying that something had to be done.

While not the only Modern-legal Cascade card, Violent Outburst is, or rather was, one of the best. For just three mana, Violent Outburst provides the all-important Cascade trigger alongside a mostly useless buff. All this happens at instant speed, which is the card’s major benefit over Shardless Agent.

With threats like Crashing Footfalls and Living End appearing in an instant, Cascade has been devastating. Not only has this deck been reliably performing at tournaments for months, but its popularity has only increased. Looking at recent data, Temur Cascade and Living End decks are the most and second most popular decks in Modern. 

Thanks to this immense popularity, it’s no wonder that there have long been calls for action. Mercifully, Wizards has finally responded to these calls and banned the card outright. Explaining this decision, Wizards highlighted the card’s Instant speed, which reduces risk and limits interaction.

While banning Violent Outburst is sure to have an immense effect on the archetype, Wizards doesn’t want to kill it. During their explanation, Wizards explicitly states “We want to preserve the cascade strategies as viable options in Modern.” To facilitate this, WotC points players toward Ardent Plea and Demonic Dread which are similar but slower.

Ultimately, even if Cascade decks can replace Violent Outburst, this ban will have a major effect. Cascading players are now forced to tap out at Sorcery speed, which means players trying to stop them have fewer windows to worry about.

Ponder Is Unrestricted

Ponder

First restricted in 2008, Ponder hasn’t been properly playable in Vintage for an awfully long time. After almost sixteen years that is finally changing as Ponder is “ready to come back into the four-of Club.” Curiously, this decision is being made even though Wizards admits “not much has changed in Vintage since our last announcement.”

Currently, even while it was restricted, Ponder still saw a decent amount of play in Vintage. That being said, it’s hardly a Staple in the format and obviously nowhere near Ancestral Recall. Still, Ponder’s ability to effectively draw one of three cards or shuffle your deck and draw can be incredibly useful.

In their explanation of this change, Wizards notes that “this shouldn’t cause a huge shift” within the Vintage metagame. Instead, Ponder being more playable should give spell-based combo decks “a little boost” to keep them competitive. Currently, Vintage is dominated by Initative, Mishra’s Workshop, and Lurrus of the Dream-Den led decks.

Ultimately, even if this change to Vintage isn’t the most monumental, it’s nonetheless incredibly welcome to see. As much as it may have been touched on during recent announcements, Vintage often feels like a forgotten format. The fact Wizards is still balancing things are evidently still cares about it is incredibly welcoming to see.

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Orcish Bowmasters

Alongside the actual banned and restricted announcements, Wizards also commented on the state of every major format. Within this, only one card, Orcish Bowmasters, was identified as a potential problem in Legacy. Since the card has been creeping into more strategies, we may see its wings clipped next May.

While Orcish Bowmasters is undeniably a problem, it’s the only worrying card in MTG right now. Standard, for example, is still plagued by midrange soup and oppressed by threats like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. Despite this long-documented dominance, Wizards didn’t mention the card once in their breakdown.

Instead of scrutinizing Sheoldred, Wizards gave themselves a pat on the back for a job well done. Highlighting recent diversity, Wizards lauded how “players are having fun seeing what winning strategies they can concoct in this new, larger sandbox of cards.” Obviously, this is incredibly self-congratulatory, however, it is somewhat apt. While Standard has been struggling somewhat, new decks and cards have been emerging recently.

Thanks to the growing diversity of Standard, MTG players were surprisingly supportive of Wizards’ declaration. That being said, there are nonetheless still problems in Standard that only rotation will solve later this year. Before then, MTG players can look forward to more bans, which have been announced for May 13th, 2024. 

Currently, there’s no telling what may be on the chopping block for the next ban wave. Ultimately, we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens and what breaks out once Outlaws of Thunder Junction releases. 

Read More: Strange MTG Eldrazi Ramp Deck Makes Surprise Appearance in Hostile Environment!

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