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By: R Koster, Rob Koster
Mar 11 2020 1:00pm
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I have to give credit where credit is due. Monday, Wizards of the Coast made a banlist announcement as they promised. And while a lot of the bans were predictable and needed, I'm still glad they did it. The thing they impressed me with, however, was the structure of the announcement. 

You can read the announcement here.

 

And because I know people want things fast; here is the TLDR:

 

Brawl:
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is banned

Historic:
The following cards are moved from suspended to banned:
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Once Upon a Time
Veil of Summer

The following cards are moved from suspended to legal:
Field of the Dead

Legacy:
Underworld Breach is banned

Modern:
Once Upon a Time is banned

 

And this part of the announcement is fine. I like what they did here. I'm still of the opinion that Pioneer isn't in a great place, but that could very well be a me problem instead of a format health problem. Which means I should start looking for another deck in the near future.

 

So far, however, this announcement is just a standard announcement. Just a banlist update. But I love the level of detail that they put into the response. They give the information that I was left wanting last week and just gave it all this week. Yes Wizards, if you are out there reading this. Knowledge makes your players happy. I wouldn't want my significant other to withhold information from me, I don't want my hobby's statistics to be kept away from me.

 

On the bannings themselves, I don't know enough about Brawl to have any form of a statement. I can, however, definitely see why a 5 color rampy commander that pays for its own recasting would be a problem.

 

I like the Historic bans; I haven't played the format for myself, but I do watch some Historic streams, and the format looks sweet. It's such a shame and a blessing at the same time. There isn't really a reason to get into the format from a competitive perspective, because on the one hand, you keep that fresh there is no metagame feeling. But there isn't a reason to play the format if you want to qualify for the PT as I do. The other problem is that I don't own all the cards for the Yarok, the Desecrated Field deck on Magic Arena. I do on Magic Online, should I be playing some Yarok, the Desecrated in Pioneer? I've never tried it. And I've never seen it anywhere, but why would that stop me? *Meanwhile on my account my tickets and play points shiver in fear*.

 

One other thing that I really like about the Historic part here is that they actually unsuspended/unbanned Field of the Dead. I believe this is the fastest that a card has ever been put back in a format, and it shows great promise on the possibilities in the future. Well done, Wizards!

 

I don't play enough Legacy, but I can totally see Lion's Eye Diamond and Underworld Breach being BFF's in misery together. So I'll keep it at that as far as my opinions go.

 

Then we get to the predictable but still very well done part. The Modern banning of Once Upon a Time. Once Upon a Time was just stupid good. I hated how everything that I played had to have 4 of them in there because it was just the best thing to do. It was seeing play in literal everything. Not only Amulet Titan and Tron (where I don't even really like the card, I keep not finding Tronlands with it, I must be skill capped.) But decks like Eldrazitron were playing it off 1 green source. Which is just rancid deckbuilding that, in my opinion, shows how ridiculous Once Upon a Time really was for the format.

Once Upon a Time was just everywhere, and I'm glad it's gone. I don't particularly appreciate that it hits Death's Shadow and Infect decks, though. Those are sweet, and the Temur Delver of Secrets deck that was playing it also takes a big hit. The deck will live but will definitely need to change a lot.

 

The one thing that surprises me a lot about this announcement, however, is that they chose to do nothing in Pioneer. I can see why, but I would have liked to have something from the Inverter of Truth deck banned. They say it has a 49% win rate against the rest of tier 1. Which is something I can firmly believe. I do feel that just the slew of combo decks that you keep getting queued into on Magic Online makes the format harsh, especially for new players. I'm not even a new player, but I just haven't been wanting to play Pioneer for the last few weeks. I hate the UB Inverter mirror because it just feels like a race to Dig Through Time, and in Game 1, whoever draws the most Fatal Push loses. Game 2 you are just trying to mise each other out with something like a Pack Rat. I love all of these cards, these kind of games are fun once in a while, but one or two matches every league is a bit much for me. So while I don't agree with Wizards on being happy with where the format is right now, I feel like from a competitive standpoint it's all fine. It just gets really dull to be playing a game and then get punked out a few times every league. I don't care if it happens every once in a while, but Pioneer is well past my limit for how often you get punked out on turn 4 or 5 and die. I don't even think one of the decks is a big problem, it's just the sheer volume of combo decks in the meta that really just drove me straight back to Modern, where the games surprisingly enough are massive interactive grind fests right now, and I am genuinely loving Modern for the first time in years.

 

So all I can say for now is that I am hoping that they make Pioneer a bit less combo heavy. It doesn't have to be by a lot. Still, the format currently, to me, feels like you should either be Combo'ing or racing. Which was the problem I had with Modern for a long time and actually managed to drive me away from the format.

 

And on the subject of Modern. I currently only have 2 problems with it. The first is a general trend that I'm noticing, the second is a me-problem and not a Modern problem.

 

The first problem is that I still think that the Primeval Titan decks are definitely on the edge of being better than everything else in the format. It's not by a longshot. But if I had to pick a best deck in the format right now, it would have 4 Primeval Titan in it. The decks are just able to be explosive and cast a turn 2 or turn 3 Primeval Titan, and if that isn't good enough or gets interacted with. They will just brutally out grind you with Field of the Dead and Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. Usually, decks with this kind of grind and this kind of explosiveness are wildly inconsistent, but the Primeval Titan decks are just super consistent. And while they aren't a problem yet, I could definitely see them becoming one. I mean, I, for one, am running 6 to 8 cards for them in every single 75 I sleeve up and still only am about 50/50 against them. I even reverted back to Gr Tron from yesteryear just so I could play a couple Boil in the sideboard against Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, and at one point I was even considering running Blood Moon in the sideboard because it hurts them more than it bothers me. Boil just makes for better games, so I went with that.

 

The second problem with Modern right now is that I don't know what I want to play a lot of the time. There is so much sweetness going on. I have been loving Temur Kiki-Jiki with Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, but the Bant Control decks going around have looked just like the sweetest things as well. I mean, I think Arcum's Astrolabe is actually just a bit too good at color fixing I would love to see it stay legal because it makes all sorts of sweet Midrangy decks viable. I'm just loving all of them, definitely a group of decks that the format was missing, in my opinion.

 

With that being said, if you want a decklist of anything I mentioned here, just let me know, and I'm off now to build a sweet, sweet Yarok, the Desecrated deck.