Two new MTG cards banned in Premier competitive formats!

Last week, players got wind of a new MTG ban announcement due to be announced today. Speculation took over the community as players fantasized about their hated archetypes getting the boat, and Wizards didn’t disappoint.

Two new cards will be banned in Modern and Standard respectively. While both of these bans weren’t the most in-demand cards in the community, they were cards that many mentioned as something they’d like to see go away. Without further ado, here are the latest banned cards from the MTG ban announcement, summarizing their roles in each format and why WoTC decided they had to go.

Yorion, Sky Nomad is banned in Modern
yorion, celestial nomad

The majority of the modern community, upon learning of the impending prohibition announcement, demanded that cards be banned from the four-color Omnath scale. This control deck is not only powerful, but rarely finishes its games within the 50 minutes given in a round of competitive MTG. Rather than ban a core card in the deck that can have ripple effects on other archetypes, Wizards has instead decided to ban Yorion, Sky Nomad. The reasoning behind this ban is quite interesting.

First, Wizards was genuinely concerned about the power level of this archetype. There were a few limiting factors why Yorion Omnath decks weren’t widespread anymore: how absurdly expensive the deck is to build in paper and how difficult it is to control the deck optimally. Their data suggested it “will likely continue to rise in popularity” as time goes on. It’s important to note that, even with price tags and pilots as limiting factors, this was still one of the best and most played decks in the format.

Slow Play is a problem
sensei's dive top

However, the main reason for banning Yorion, Sky Nomad, is similar to the reason behind the modern ban on Sensei’s Divining Top. This card encourages many slow playing and card skill issues in the modern format.

“[W]They also consider the physical dexterity requirements of playing with a large tabletop deck. We’re wary of the metagame reaching a point where players play the card game due to its perceived power 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, which search for a map from your library to optimize the format’s mana experience. Since most Yorion decks have 4-5 suits (with the possible exception of Azorius Yorion Control), one can search for a specific country within an 80-card deck where only one copy of that country exists. Then the Yorion player has to shuffle, present to cut and probably repeat the same action almost every turn.

“While these physical dexterity issues exist to a lesser extent in other formats (such as Pioneer), Modern specifically involves more shuffling and other physical card manipulation due to the deep card pool of card-selection spells, fetch land, and so on.”

Wizards of the Coast goes on to say that these cumbersome strategies are okay as the exception, but not the rule.

The last primary reason for Yorion’s ban was to encourage repetitive play patterns. There’s a good chance if you’re playing an Omnath Yorion deck, you’ll see Yorion come down at some point. Yorion decks always have access to their Companion and it can get incredibly consistent as a result. Yorion also activates many permanent effects in the deck, allowing for large turns that require the Yorion player to take longer turns, causing a lot of downtime between player actions. For all these reasons, Yorion, Sky Nomad has been banned from the most recent MTG ban announcement.

The Meatook Massacre is banned by default
the massacre of the meatook

This is not a ban I saw coming! It’s no secret that Black has been incredibly powerful in Standard since the release of Dominaria United. While there’s metagame diversity out there (other than every deck is midrange soup), Wizards recognized that Black was a problem, but didn’t really know what to ban in Black:

“To give a little push to the playing speed of the color black in competitive card games, we choose to ban one black card. We discussed several options, as no black card stood out as a major outlier played by all card games containing black. In the end, we decided that banning The Meathook Massacre was the best choice as it is one of the most powerful black cards in the format, is especially powerful against specific archetypes (decks that rely on many small creatures) and has had its day. to shine in Standard for over a year.”

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

Nothing is forbidden in Legacy (?)

Perhaps the most alarming thing about this ban announcement is that nothing is banned in Legacy. For reference, one archetype seems to perform strongly in that format. In fact, even the players who win tournaments with Izzet Delver decks have asked for cards to be banned.

ragavan, agile looter

Contrary 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 had to go, Delver gets weaker these days as time goes by.

“Since the ban on Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer in January, the most popular card game, Izzet Delver, has seen a downward trend in its win rate. According to Magic Online data, it represents about 9% of the field and has an overall no-mirror 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 positively impacting Legacy, and they are excited to see how future sets will affect the format.

Closing Thoughts

Pioneer was also not banned. While some of the community sees Mono-Green as a somewhat polarizing strategy in the format, this weekend’s MOCS proved it might not be as strong as originally thought. Pioneer seems to be in a pretty healthy place with a lot of different decks in the format. This is further enhanced by the presence of other meta-check decks to keep players on their toes.

While these bans seem fairly justified, and to be honest I’m just glad my Modern deck wasn’t hit, there will probably be some in the MTG community who will disagree with them. What are your thoughts? If you’d like to learn more about Wizards’ thoughts on their decisions, you can read the official statement here.

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