10, Oct, 22

Two New MTG Cards Banned in Premier Competitive Formats!

Article at a Glance

Last week, players caught wind of a new MTG ban announcement scheduled to be announced today. Speculation took over the community as players fantasized about their hated archetypes getting the boot, and Wizards has not disappointed.

Two new cards are seeing bans in Modern and Standard, respectively. While both of these bans were not the most called-for cards in the community, they were cards mentioned by many as something they would like to see go. Without further ado, here are the newest banned Cards from the MTG ban announcement, a synopsis of their roles in each format, and why WoTC decided that they needed to go.

Yorion, Sky Nomad is Banned in Modern

yorion, sky nomad

The majority of the Modern community, when hearing about the impending ban announcement, asked for cards to be banned out of the four-color Omnath shell. This control deck is not only potent, but it rarely ends its games within the 50 minutes given in a round of competitive MTG. Instead of banning a core card in the deck that may have ripple effects on other archetypes, Wizards has instead decided to ban Yorion, Sky Nomad. The reasoning behind this ban is pretty interesting.

Firstly, Wizards was genuinely concerned about the power level of this archetype. There were a few limiting factors as to why Yorion Omnath decks were not more widespread: how absurdly expensive the deck is to build in paper and it being difficult to pilot the deck optimally. Their data suggested that it is “likely to continue to rise in popularity” as time passes. It is important to note that, even with price tags and piloting as limiting factors, this was still one of the best and most played decks in the format.

Slow Play is a Problem

sensei's divining top

However, the more significant reason for banning Yorion, Sky Nomad is similar to the reason behind the Modern banning of Sensei’s Divining Top. This card encourages a lot of slow play and card dexterity issues in the Modern format.

“[W]e’re also factoring in the physical dexterity requirements of playing with a large deck for tabletop. We’re wary of the metagame reaching a point where players are playing the deck because of its perceived strength and win rate despite not enjoying how cumbersome it can be to operate.”

Modern, unlike Pioneer, requires constant shuffling. This is due to the nature of Fetch Lands like Flooded Strand that search for a land card from your library to help optimize the format’s mana experience. Because most Yorion decks are 4-5 colors (with the possible exception of Azorius Yorion Control), one may be searching for a specific land within an 80-card deck where only one copy of that land exists. Then, the Yorion player must shuffle, present for cut, and likely repeat the same action almost every turn.

“While these physical dexterity issues exist to a lesser degree in other formats (like Pioneer), Modern specifically entails more shuffling and other physical card manipulation because of the deep card pool of card-selection spells, fetch lands, and so on.”

Wizards of the Coast goes on to state that these cumbersome strategies are ok as the exception but not as a rule.

The last primary reason for Yorion’s banning was the encouragement of repetitive play patterns. There’s a strong chance that if you’re playing an Omnath Yorion deck, you will see Yorion come down at some point. Yorion decks will always have access to their Companion, and it can, therefore, become incredibly consistent. Yorion also triggers many permanent effects within the deck, allowing for huge turns where the Yorion player must take longer turns, creating a lot of downtime between player actions. For all of these reasons, Yorion, Sky Nomad has been banned as of the most recent MTG ban announcement.

The Meathook Massacre is Banned in Standard

the meathook massacre

This is not a ban that I saw coming! It’s no secret that Black has been incredibly powerful in Standard since the release of Dominaria United. While there is metagame diversity outside of that (besides every deck being midrange soup), Wizards acknowledged that Black was an issue but wasn’t really sure what to ban in Black:

“To provide a small push against the color black’s play rate among competitive decks, we’re choosing to ban one black card. We discussed several different options, as no single black card stood out as a major power outlier played by all decks containing black. Ultimately, we decided that banning The Meathook Massacre was the best choice, as it’s one of the most powerful black cards in the format, is especially powerful against specific archetypes (decks relying on a lot of small creatures) and has had its time to shine in Standard for over a year.”

Standard players are most excited about the potential rise of aggressive strategies in response to Meathook’s banning. As mentioned before, midrange strategies are currently the only thing that Standard players can actually play. While banning The Meathook Massacre will definitely weaken Black’s hold on the format, many MTG players are excited about the potential rise of a reasonable aggressive strategy. While black’s grip has lessened, midrange’s hold may remain, and that hold is a much larger question as to how the format will develop. Hopefully, we will see some more variation in strategies as a result of this MTG ban announcement.

Nothing Got Banned in Legacy(?)

Perhaps the most alarming thing about this ban announcement is that nothing got banned in Legacy. To reference, one archetype seems to be strongly overperforming in that format. It’s to the point that even the players winning tournaments with Izzet Delver decks have been asking for cards to be banned.

ragavan, nimble pilferer

In contrast to this statement, Wizards of the Coast states that the Legacy format is actually relatively healthy. While Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer broke the Delver archetype in half and really needed to go, Delver nowadays is getting weaker as time passes.

“Since the ban of Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer in January, the most popular deck, Izzet Delver, has had its win rate trend downward. According to Magic Online data, it represents about 9% of the field and has an overall non-mirror match win rate of 52%, with both positive and negative matchups against the next ten most played decks.”

Wizards goes on to state that many new cards released in Core sets are affecting Legacy in positive ways, and that they are excited to see how future sets will impact the format.

Closing Thoughts

Pioneer also did not receive any bans. While some of the community see Mono-Green as a somewhat polarizing strategy in the format, this weekend’s MOCS proved that it might not be as strong as initially thought. Pioneer seems to be in a pretty healthy spot with many diverse decks in the format. This is further strengthened by the presence of other meta-check decks to keep players on their toes.

While these bans do seem quite justified, and in all honesty, I’m just happy my Modern deck didn’t get hit, there will likely be some in the MTG community who disagree with them. What are your thoughts? If you want more information on Wizards’ thoughts regarding their decisions, you can read the official statement here.

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