Banned and Restricted Announcement July 8, 2019

The announcement is here, after all the speculation and articles lamenting the death of the golden era of Modern, we finally have our answers. Here’s what’s coming with this B&R Announcement will entail:

  • Bridge from Below is banned in Modern.
  • Paradox Engine is banned in Commander.
  • Iona, Shield of Emeria is banned in Commander.
  • Painter’s Servant is unbanned in Commander.

This changes a lot.

First off, the choice to ban Bridge from Below is a very good signal from Wizards of the Coast, and their reasoning is excellent. All of this data was gathered from Magic Online. Hogaak’s overall win rate was around 60% initially, with a game one win rate of around 66%.  it wasn’t until people started making drastic sideboard choices (ie. four Leyline of the Voids) that the deck’s win rate lowered to normal levels. They also stated that in this time, Hogaak Bridgevine had become the most played deck in Modern, and earning thrice the number of 5-0 trophies as the next deck.

By doing that, it had broken three rules of Modern.

  • A deck can’t have a win rate above 60%
  • It forced people to make large deck building choices to adapt, thus warping the format.
  • It took up too large amount of the Modern meta share.

Something had to be done, and they had to figure out what. They note that they considered three separate cards for the ban, being Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis; Altar of Dementia; and Bridge from Below. They give the argument that Bridge from Below is the card of the three that will most likely cause problems in the future. It is also a cache of resources that does not cost any mana or other resources, that doesn’t need to be drawn either. This is why they chose Bridge from Below over anything else, and I agree with the choice. There is something that excites me very much so about this announcement, however.

Faithless Looting was not mentioned a single time. Through all the talk on why the choices were made as they were, Faithless Looting failed to show up in any discussion. In fact, I would like to quote Ian Duke in this;

Our goal is not to eliminate graveyard strategies from the Modern metagame, but rather to weaken this version of the graveyard combo archetype that has proven too powerful for other decks to reasonably adapt to.

If we’re lucky, this means Faithless Looting is here to stay as Modern’s Brainstorm.

Past Modern, we got some fairly unexpected news from the Commander B&R Announcement, banning Paradox Engine and Iona, Shield of Emeria, simultaneously unbanning Painter’s Servant. I can understand two of these choices. Paradox Engine I believe should have been banned a little while ago, but having Urza, Lord High Artificer introduced made the card too good. I can agree with this choice. Painter’s Servant becoming unbanned I believe is fine. It combos with Grindstone, and there are a lot of two card combos in Commander that are not too good. I can agree with this choice. Iona, Shield of Emeria being banned though? I’m not so sure.

There reasoning is that Iona creates a negative, and un-fun environment without the “benefit of a positive application”. They also said that Iona is an exemplar of what they want to discourage in Commander, setting a bar.

I don’t know if I agree with this or not, they are correct that it creates an un-fun environment, but she costs nine mana. People can cheat her out another way via Kaalia, but that takes some effort to untap with a Kaalia to attack with her. She is an extremely effective hate card, but can still be dealt with. Mind you, this is coming from an Arcanis the Omnipotent player who plays in a group with a Captain Sisay player and a Kaalia of the Vast player, both of whom play Iona.

I can’t help but feel that Iona paid for Painter’s Servant’s sins, though Sheldon does say that Painter’s Servant being unbanned has very little to do with Iona being banned.

 

Either way, come July 12, we will have a new Modern and a new Commander, both of which seem more and more enticing with each hour I spend contemplating the implications.

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