MTG Modern April Bannings and Unbannings, by Joe Butcher

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Magic: The Gathering Modern April Bannings & Unbannings

Boom! The update to the Modern banlist is now upon us. In dealing with the monstrous Eldrazi threat that laughed at any attempt to stop it, Wizards of the Coast has fiddled around and brought the Banhammer down- with a resounding bang! Boy oh boy, is this a change. Here’s what happened to Modern and Vintage:



I was not expecting those two Modern unbannings, and I doubt many of you were either. (I always pray for Stoneforge Mystic to be unbanned, but it seems like that isn’t going to happen.) What I want to focus on is the impact this change has on Modern. Unfortunately, Vintage just isn’t my type of format, so I’ll be leaving that topic to the experts in that field.


An Eldrazi Modern

eye of ugin expedition
Bye bye, Eye’ll see you around!

To start off, we’ll probably start seeing the Eldrazi become a less prevalent menace as their primary source of power is gone. Eye of Ugin was so strong with the new Eldrazi that it genuinely became a displeasure to play Modern. The last time a deck was so prevalent was when Elves was a legal deck in Extended back in 2008 but Modern Eldrazi also had a win rate comparable to Standard Caw-Blade (The most powerful deck ever developed in Standard.) circa 2011.

Eldrazi was the deck that Wizards of the Coast (and I) really hoped would never come to be. Its consistency, power and resilience meant that you either jumped on the bandwagon or got stomped.

This doesn’t mean that the deck was without critics. Even the professionals didn’t hesitate to vocalize their dislike for a Modern format dominated by Eldrazi decks. It was an unhealthy format. For anyone who didn’t play the deck for any number of reasons, it was an easy scapegoat to direct your rage at. The deck went from a cool idea (in the form of Green-Black Eldrazi), to the format stomper that was White-Blue Eldrazi.

If I’m being honest, I was one of those slinging hate. I got so bored of watching a Modern event, looking at the format breakdown, and seeing over 50% of players playing an Eldrazi deck. The biggest issue, in my mind, was that there was no variety among Eldrazi lists. Blue-White proved to be the strongest and most consistent flavor of Eldrazi, turning mirror-matches into topdeck wars to see who got their critical mass of 2 lands first. Even as a steadfast believer in Affinity, I did have my doubts as to how Wizards could allow this deck to exist in the format.


The future seems to like swords…

Instead of rubbing salt into the wounds of people that bought playsets of Eye of Ugin,I’d like to talk about what the future holds. To those poor people who tried to foil out their Eldrazi deck, or even purchased Expeditions– my heart goes out to you.  (I more or less did the same thing before the bannings of Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise. I’ve had smarter moments, admittedly.)

Alongside the format warping ban were two highly unexpected removals from the ban list. Sword of the Meek has been largely forgotten since its banning due to being part of the hybrid Dark Depths + Vampire Hexmage and Sword of the Meek + Thopter Foundry combo deck that ran riot during Extended.

Combining Sword of the Meek and Thopter Foundry allows for an inexorable tide of 1/1 Thopter tokens to be produced. When you sacrifice Sword of the Meek to generate a Thopter token, Sword of the Meek‘s trigger goes on the stack and, upon resolution, returns to the battlefield equipped to the new Thopter token. Each time you pay 1, you effectively generate one Thopter token and gain one life. Combining this with Time Sieve after the fifth Thopter was produced allows you to take infinite turns by repeating the aforementioned process with Sword of the Meek five times and sacrificing the tokens you produced.

Bringing this into the current Modern format may have interesting repercussions. My guess is that people will go a little bit crazy over these unbans, especially Ancestral Vision– a card we’ll mention later. For now, bear with me as I rant about Sword of the Meek.

I can see a lot of people (myself included) trying to find ways to break this “new” combo. Currently, I’m working with the current list:

Hangarback Walker
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Engineered Explosives
Inquisition of Kozilek
Lightning Bolt
Muddle the Mixture
Sword of the Meek
Thopter Foundry
Ghirapur Aether Grid
Kolaghan’s Command
Thirst for Knowledge
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Darksteel Citadel
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Watery Grave


The past repeats itself

And now for the big-‘un- one for all you Blue control mages out there, in addition to the tempo players still weeping over the loss of Treasure Cruise.

Ancestral Vision has had a seat in Legacy for a long time, just doing its thing- that “thing” being drawing 3 cards in a future upkeep. Which is strong. The ability to drop it on turn one, dump your hand, and then have it be refilled by turn five is pretty cool. The potential to cast it off of a Shardless Agent for free is even better.
But this is Modern, and we’re not all rich enough to own the cards needed for a Tier 1 Legacy deck- so it’s worth looking into ways to make use of it in Modern. And boy, do I have the perfect deck for you to include your brand spanking new cards:

Spellstutter Sprite
Scion of Oona
Vendilion Clique
Mistbind Clique
Snapcaster Mage
Ancestral Vision
Inquisition of Kozilek
Spell Snare
Cryptic Command
Mana Leak
Geth’s Verdict
Creeping Tar Pit
Ghost Quarter
River of Tears
Secluded Glen
Sunken Ruins

This, to me, seems to be the best home for Ancestral Vision that I can think of. Being able to dump a hand onto the table and restock your hand will severely power up control decks and running four copies of this card in the decks that can make use of it seems like a total no-brainer. I can’t really see it in some kind of White-Blue control deck as those types of decks don’t like to indictate what they have in their hand, so Ancestral Vision seems like it gives off too much information for that style of deck to want it. It’s possible that a deck comes along and finds a better use for this card, but for now, I’ll stand by this.


Closing Thoughts

I’m sure many of you agree that this ban was a necessity. The power of Modern Eldrazi decks was far too high to be conducive to a healthy Modern environment and really needed dealing with. That said, it’s a great shame that Tron had to take a hit to make that happen. However, this is a sacrifice I’d be willing to make, since it doesn’t affect me! I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what happens to Modern now the powerhouse card is gone. With any luck, a variety of decks will end up competing for the top spot. This has just been a quick summary of what is changing in Modern, as well as some ideas for you brewers out there. I hope it does some good for you all.

Community Question: What aspect of Modern excites you the most now that the banlist revision has changed the format?

‘Till next time!

Joe Butcher

MTG Modern April Bannings & Unbannings, by Joe Butcher
Boom! The update to our Modern banlist is now upon us. In order to deal with the monstrous Eldrazi threat that was crying with laughter at all attempts to combat it, Wizards of the Coast have fiddled around and brought the Banhammer down with a resounding bang.

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