Post-Ban Blues: Change is Never Easy

As almost everyone knows by now, there was a big Modern shakeup with the latest B&R update. Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis and Faithless Looting were banned from the format and Stoneforge Mystic became legal. This is a massive change to the B&R list. It is fairly rare that we get changes at all, let alone three changes in a single update. Obviously, this has led to a ton of uncertainty about the format. Rather than discuss the implications of the ban on the format like everyone else, I’m going to focus on the effects of the ban from a community standpoint. I think broad points can be made about the meta like control decks will get better or the format will slow down. I’d be very skeptical of anyone implying they know the full implications of this ban. There are too many moving pieces and just analyzing the impact of the Faithless Looting banning would be hard enough. Instead, let’s look at what these updates mean and discuss where we’re going as a community of players.

Any time that cards get banned, it is going to make some group of player’s upset. Magic cards cost money and money is a finite resource for almost everyone. As we’ve discussed in numerous articles, Faithless Looting was enabling numerous decks to exist. Now, many of those decks will be unplayable or require massive overhauls to make into something playable again. I can definitely sympathize with this group. One thing that Modern players will consistently tell you is that once you buy your deck, it will never rotate. While this is technically true, it is important to acknowledge that events like this happen. Wizards has shown that it is willing to make bans that massively shake up the format. Yes, staples will largely retain there value, but that means potentially investing more money into the game which is not something that everyone has the means to do.

Even if your deck wasn’t hurt by the ban. Stoneforge Mystic is a sixty dollar card. A playset plus Batterskull is going to run close to $250 for five cards. This package is going to go into a ton of decks in Modern. Even existing, fully fleshed out decks suddenly have an extra $250 cost slapped onto them. I’m not arguing that Stoneforge shouldn’t have been unbaned. I think that the card is fine for Modern. I just don’t like the timing of it. Faithless Looting and Hogaak getting banned were already going to cause huge ripples in the meta. Now, Wizards is injecting a very powerful card into a totally unknown format. Perhaps it’ll go swimmingly and Modern will be in a great state. I don’t have any reason to believe that to be true. Too many things are going to change from the Faithless Looting ban. I would have strongly preferred that we waited until the results of that before any unbans happened.

Am I worried about this change? No, not at all. Modern has had plenty of bans throughout its history. People thought the format would be broken when Splinter Twin wasn’t around to police it. People thought unbanning Valakut would break the format. People thought banning Birthing Pod would be the end of creature toolbox decks. A lot of the fears that people have about the new meta are overblown. The worst case scenario is that the format is unfun for a little bit before it gets fixed. It always gets fixed. That isn’t to say that I would be happy about being stuck with a terrible Modern format for awhile. Modern is one of the most diverse formats in all of Magic. Players are able to play a ton of different things that are reasonably competitive. I hope that this always stays true in Modern.

It’s not hard to see why people might be upset about the recent B&R announcement. Many people were financially impacted by the ban. I get that cards are not investments, but we need to be more careful with our claims of Modern as a pseudo-eternal format. Overall, I’m excited about this change. I think that there are a lot of opportunities to innovate. Faithless Looting was polarizing the meta in a major way. There are lots of opportunities for cards to fill that usage now. Many people have been saying that Stoneforge Mystic is a safe unban. It’s time to see if that is actually true. I’m excited for where Modern is headed.

As we’ve seen from the last eleven times they’ve changed the format, it will be okay. And if its not? They will make it okay. So take a week to mourn, try not to take it out on the community, and find a new way to enjoy the format. What is your take so far? Is the format more balanced? Is the gameplay more fun? Please share your thoughts with us in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back next week with another article for you to enjoy. Until then my friends.

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