12, Mar, 24

MTG Players Highlight Concerns Over Lackluster Ban Announcement

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Article at a Glance

Earlier today, a major ban announcement dropped affecting the Modern and Vintage formats. Violent Outburst was ultimately banned in Modern, while Ponder became unrestricted in Vintage. Violent Outburst’s banning isn’t an enormous surprise, as Crashing Footfalls and Living End decks continued to rise in recent months. Players being able to play a playset of Ponder in Vintage is a bit surprising but given the recent unbanning of Preordain in Modern, this isn’t an unprecedented move.

What was more shocking to a lot of players, though, was the fact that there were no changes made in Pioneer or Legacy. Many players were looking for overhauls in multiple formats. For some, this ideally would include additional bans in Modern to help prevent the “next man up” issue where other strategies like Golgari Yawgmoth, Thran Physician combo wouldn’t simply take up more of the meta themselves.

Obviously, players are bound to have mixed opinions with regards to what should and shouldn’t be banned or unbanned. However, there appears to be some resonating displeasure with how this announcement transpired. Before we get to the negatives, though, we should at least go over the positives.

A General Agreement About Violent Outburst

Violent Outburst

Where players seem most pleased with regards to the announcement was with the banning of Violent Outburst in Modern. Both Crashing Footfalls decks and Living End decks alike made excellent use of this card, and it led to some rather frustrating play patterns.

As many players have pointed out, this is absolutely not the end all be all for Cascade archetypes in Modern. Cards like Ardent Plea can slot in nicely. Ardent Plea even pitches to Subtlety and Force of Negation, which is a nice bonus. Throw in Teferi, Time Raveler and you can effectively resolve your Cascade spells through counter magic. In fact, Ardent Plea has supposedly been bought out on TCGPlayer already, which signals that Cascade decks may be far from dead.

That being said, players have noted that a consistent issue they’ve faced while battling against Cascade decks in Modern is the play patterns associated with Outburst and Force of Negation. Force of Negation is a very strong card, but players can only cast it for free on the opponent’s turn. This card was likely designed this way to differentiate it from Force of Will, which can be used proactively in Legacy to push your own combo through opposing interaction.

With Outburst being an Instant, though, it enabled Cascade players to cast Outburst on the opponent’s turn and use Force of Negation to help it resolve. Then, even if the opponent has multiple pieces of interaction, the Cascade player can simply untap, cast another Cascade spell, and go off from there. This made it quite difficult for other decks to develop their board and expect to interact in a meaningful way. Not to mention, these Cascade decks have been top tier for a long time and are relatively repetitive in nature, so this seems like a reasonable change at the very least.

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Potential Danger Awaits

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

Unfortunately, by banning only Violent Outburst, the end result may not be the super healthy format people are hoping for. First and foremost, players were very quick to point out how advantageous this ban is for Yawgmoth decks. Golgari Yawgmoth, much like Cascade decks, has represented a large portion of the Modern metagame for a long time, especially since Orcish Bowmasters was printed.

Given that Cascade decks were decent at at least helping keep Yawgmoth decks in check, it is a bit concerning how favorable the matchups spread is for Yawgmoth decks. This is, of course, assuming Cascade decks die down a little, which isn’t entirely guaranteed.

This ban also fails to address Grief and the unpleasant “Scam” experiences that come with it. Even though Rakdos Scam has died down, Esper Goryo’s Vengeance decks make great use of Grief and Solitude in conjunction with Ephemerate. After the monster weekend Esper Goryo’s decks had, some players are concerned about the state of the format going forward.

One nice aspect of this ban, though, is that if Cascade decks die down a bit, there may be room for some strategies held down to rise up once more. Most notably, players have mentioned Indomitable Creativity combo as a huge winner post-ban. Indomitable Creativity decks were quite vulnerable to Force of Negation in conjunction with the quick pressure that Cascade decks could apply.

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Pioneer Players Left Baffled

Treasure Cruise

Almost definitively, the biggest issue from the ban announcement was the lack of Pioneer bans. Given the recent bans of Karn, the Great Creator and Geological Appraiser, it seemed like the design team was taking a conscious effort to look over any unfun or otherwise toxic cards in Pioneer. Unfortunately, from a metagame share perspective, Pioneer is far from ideal.

Players were not hesitant to call out Treasure Cruise as a problematic card. Treasure Cruise has been on the short list of elite Pioneer cards for quite some time, but the printing of Picklock Prankster and Sleight of Hand in Pioneer made Izzet Phoenix extremely consistent. In the latest Magic Online Pioneer Showcase Challenge, Izzet Phoenix represented eight of the top 16 decks, which is absolutely incredible.

Of course, with the recent emergence of Rakdos Vampires, there’s an argument that the format is showing some innovation and therefore shouldn’t be touched at the moment. Still, Izzet Phoenix had a dominant showing at the Pro Tour as well. Perhaps the concern is that banning Cruise would kill the Phoenix deck entirely, which is a real possibility, but as is, there’s no denying the deck’s stranglehold on the format. If you’re planning to play Pioneer in the coming weeks, you’d better have a plan for Phoenix and Vampires, because they will be everywhere.

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Problems in Legacy


Beyond Pioneer, Legacy also received no changes. Once again, there were a lot of players left stunned by this decision. Even more concerning, though, was the complete lack of any mention of Grief whatsoever in the official announcement by Wizards of the Coast. Interestingly, Orcish Bowmasters was mentioned as a card being watched in the future. The problem is, many players believe that the gameplay Grief promotes is far worse, even if Bowmasters appears in more decklists overall.

Even from a numbers standpoint, it’s not unreasonable to consider Grief an issue in and of itself. In a recent Magic Online Legacy Qualifier, Reanimator made up nearly 27% of the decks in the event. Most of these Reanimator decks were Dimir shells abusing the combination of Grief and Reanimate. With Troll of Khazad-Dum in the mix, Reanimator got a lot scarier and more consistent, too.

The next ban announcement is scheduled for May 13 and there are sure to be plenty of eyes eagerly watching for the news. For players that were hopeful for massive change, all hope is not lost. It’s abundantly clear, though, that a large number of players were disappointed with this announcement. This is especially true with regards to Pioneer and Legacy, which will continue to trudge along as is for the time being. Only time will tell if more changes await us in May, but for now, it’s at least worth monitoring how the Modern and Vintage metagames adjust.

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