The DCI has announced their quarterly updates to the Banned and Restricted lists, and there are some major changes in Vintage, Legacy, Modern, and Extended!
Fact or Fiction is no longer Restricted.
Mental Misstep is Banned.
These are some major changes to every widely played format outside of Standard (where Jace and Stoneforge are already Banned). What does this mean for these formats? Check out our Instant Analysis after the jump!
Well, after the last many months of campaigning by our own Stephen Menendian and William Winger, the DCI has unrestricted Fact of Fiction in Vintage. Erik Lauer seemed to agree with Steve and William’s assement that Fact is not too powerful, and in unbanning Fact may create some diversity. Will this open up a whole new slew of archetypes? Probably not, although it certainly makes Goblin Welder‘s stock potentially go back up again at least a little (think Welder + Fact in a Slaver type shell).
The thing that Vintage pilots will have to ask themselves is this: would you rather cast Fact or Fiction for four mana on turn three, or would you rather cast Gush for free on turn three floating two Blue mana? I have a feeling that most players will continue to opt for Gush in a field of Red Elemental Blast, Spell Pierce, Mana Drain, and Lodestone Golem.
After a couple of authors on SCG have been banging the drum for the last month or two for the potential banning of Mental Misstep in Legacy, the counterspell that put true control decks back on the map in Legacy was axed. This is a sad state of affairs for Legacy players.
Expect combo to be back in a big way, especially now that they have Flusterstorm to proactively force through their big threats. High Tide profits the most from the banning of Misstep in Legacy, as the main speed bump in the way of the deck is now out of the way. Similarly, Dark Ritual decks like Ad Nauseam Tendrils (ANT) will be back in the fold, and you can expect both of these decks to be built with Merfolk as their number one target.
Speaking of Merfolk, AEther Vial decks will also see quite a resurgence, as they will once again naturally invalidate pure control strategies. Cards like Ancestral Vision, Standstill, and Counterbalance are once again too slow in the face of AEther Vial. The funny thing about Mental Misstep was that it actually slowed down the format’s fundamental turn by at least one full turn, if not more.
The bannings of Rite of Flame, Blazing Shoal, and Cloudpost basically killed off Pyromancer’s Swath decks, Empty the Warrens decks, the Shoal Infect deck, and 12-Post in all forms. Green Sun’s Zenith was banned as well, just to insure that Primeval Titan sufficiently got kicked in the nuts. Why not just leave Zenith and Cloudpost unbanned and ban the Titan instead? This is about as dumb as when the DCI banned Dark Ritual when Necropotence was the true problem in formats of yesteryear.
The bannings of Ponder and Preordain apparently were just for good measure, because Splinter Twin will still be the deck to beat, without question. It was the best deck before the bannings, and the substitution of Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand in for the banned Ponder and Preordain is not a significant impediment for the deck.
Other decks that you can expect to see rise to the top are Zoo and Jund, which can naturally abuse Punishing Fire better than just about anything else. They are the most efficient strategies left in the format on a cost to benefit ratio, have the best creatures, and have the most efficient removal. Punishing Fire has remained unbanned for some reason through all three iterations of Modern now, and is a natural predator to all of the Elves decks, Merfolk, and any other tribal or small geek creature decks. It is light years beyond anything else you can be doing in Modern, except casting Splinter Twin.
Now that the field has been significantly handicapped, you can also UGWx Junk decks to start popping up more and more frequently as well. Now that they don’t have to worry about 12-post and a ton of other random decks in Modern, they can be tweaked to focus on beating Zoo and Splinter Twin first and foremost, and they should be able to do very well in this new Modern 3.0 landscape.
Well, the bannings that most people thought would hit Extended quite a while ago have finally hit, and no one cares. Extended as a format is essentially dead, but if it is for some reason resuscitated it will be without Jace, Stoneforge Mystic, and Mental Misstep for people to complain about.
In closing, I thought some of the targets of the DCI fine, but most were way off base. The DCI would have probably been better off just banning Blazing Shoal, Splinter Twin, and Primeval Titan in Modern, and unbanning a number of other cards in a number of formats. Let people play with their cards and adapt, and if you see truly dominant strategies in formats with deep card pools develop over the course of a year or longer then take action. I wish I could say bravo, but all I can see is more people being turned off by the middling actions of the DCI, and the luster of a potentially exciting format like Modern wearing off.